Seeing the World Through 'Emerald Colored Glasses'

It’s a pretty commonly known fact among my friend circle that my upbringing, while rife with a brand of dysfunction all its own, was distinctly privileged. I grew up comfortably. I grew up largely ignorant of hunger, poverty and many of the other aspects of the world that so many endure. It would even be accurate to say that, prior to the age of 18 (when a great many things entered my world-view), I lived life with a pair of rose colored glasses permanently affixed to my eyes.

A lot has changed since then. I’ve met incredible people and learned astonishing things. I’ve gained a far more broad understanding of the world than I ever imagined I might. Little by little my rose colored glasses were peeled away and I managed to begin seeing the world for closer to what it really is rather than what my inherent privilege made it seem to be.

Unfortunately, rose isn’t the only color glasses come in. Around the time that my mental and emotional states became compromised enough that outsiders (first close friends, then even acquaintances) could identify warning signs, I made some poor decisions. Blessedly, for whatever reason, I persevered through those choices and — thanks to some direct intervention from my closest confidantes — entered into therapy to both obtain a formal diagnosis and to begin undergoing treatment in hopes of putting myself back together.

It was at that time that my therapist — the same therapist I see to this very day, in fact — identified a fundamental lack of social understanding in how my mind functions. Most people, he explained, have a sort of inherent ability to quantify others’ opinions of them. Some process that data and adapt accordingly. Some do so and dismiss it entirely. Many fall somewhere in-between. But me, well, something about that base aspect of socialization just doesn’t “click” properly in my head.

I’ve come to term this divergence from the norm “emerald colored glasses” in my mind — though this may be the first time I’ve ever addressed it directly outside a therapy session. The short-form of the problem is that I have an innate difficulty in recognizing others’ opinions of me. Moreover, because I cannot readily recognize aspects of their behavior or reception that might indicate a positive opinion — and somewhat due to my own history with trauma — I inherently assume that the aforementioned opinions and perceptions are negative.

This has led to a lot of hurt feelings and difficulties in the past, as one might expect. Aside from the certainly-irksome habit of effectively replacing others’ thoughts with my own assumptions of them, it also leads me to try constantly to push that negative indicator over into neutral or — dare I hope it — positive. It’s also had the unfortunate byproducts of causing me to let others down (due to having taken on too much or things outside my scope of ability out of a hope that I can improve aforementioned opinions) and creating a deep envy of those who don’t deal with this constant problematic validation cycle.

One of my “big push” focuses for the past several months has been trying to work towards removing this second colored set of glasses from my eyes. The view of the world — and of the brilliant people I have the pleasure of knowing within it — that they convey does nothing but bring hurt, disappointment and impossible pressure. I’m certain I have unfairly judged, mistrusted, worried-over or shallowly tried to impress many of you out there and I am sorry for that, sincerely.

I can’t promise it won’t happen again. Not yet. But I can promise that I’ve become aware of it. And that, to me, is the first step towards success.

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