I just had a conversation not too long ago about self perceptions vs. the perceptions of those around us. This topic has always been one of a lot of interest to me. I consider myself fairly perceptive, (exhibit A) but for the life of me, I can never put much of a finger on how others perceive me and my character. It’s a black hole about which I am quite intrigued. I like asking those I consider my friends their thoughts about who I am. I love hearing about my strengths and, even better, weaknesses. I LOVE discussing first impressions. Most of all, I love finding people who are also interested in discussing “self” in this way.
Of course, when you ask what others think of you, you have to be ready for things you don’t expect. You also have to be ready to hear things you may not want to hear. It’s a textbook example of a mystery grab bag. But even the weak aspects of your character you’d rather ignore or perhaps were never aware of are, at the end of the day, your responsibility. To leave parts of yourself stagnant could eventually consign your entire self to moldering stagnation.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” — I don’t think we take this very seriously in our culture. Perhaps because it’s hard to be vulnerable. Perhaps because the good ole’ American value system is positively repelled and appalled by weakness and insufficiency. But basing an entire lifetime of development on the perceptions of only one set of eyes (your own) is quite a gamble. If we want to truly grow and become better people, we need a second, and third, and as-many-more-as-you-can-get-your-hands-on opinion.
P.S. — if you ever want someone to be intentional with about growing and sharpening each other… Just sayin’. I’m here and would probably jump up and down with glee.