The Pig Nose Story

My pondering on perception has opened a whole can of worms.

I’ve been going round and round and round and coming back to the same conclusion: we’re all unique and we all see things a bit differently.

It’s best illustrated through marmite. You either love it or hate it. A marmite lover talking about marmite is likely to create a very different impression of the flavour sensation to that given by a marmite hater.

As I said, it’s all subjective.

And subjectivity is a precarious basis for self perception.

A simple illustration:

When I was a child, I was occasionally teased about the slight angle at the end of my nose. I had, in children’s terminology, a pig nose.

At the time, I unquestioningly accepted my classmate’s verdict; and, as I grew up, I never challenged their opinion. It was only after reading an article on the aesthetically pleasing qualities of an upturned nose that I begun to realise how much I’d internalised the comments. It was only when I started untangling the mess that I’d become that I got the significance of their comments.

Nose shape aside – I was never that bothered by the whole issue – I learnt a valuable lesson: that you can easily base your perception of yourself on an opinion that may or may not be flawed. That you can take other people’s subjectivity far too objectively. That my illness was linked to a perception of myself that was, quite possibly, very much off the mark.

I know that we’re bordering on philosophical territory here, that it’s far easier to have a nice neat tangible cause and effect scenario; but, when I’d finally got my head around the whole issue of perception, when I’d finally separated out the strands of truth and opinion; well, I had a whole different version of myself –

Because, when you’re younger, it’s hard to understand the fine line between subjectivity and objectivity. It’s hard to make the distinction between opinion and fact.

When you’re a kid, it’s hard to know that anger is passing and can lead to things being said that shouldn’t have been said. It’s hard to remember that your elders are only human and they sometimes get it wrong. It’s virtually impossible to understand the whole spectrum of emotions – fear, jealousy, anger, impatience – that twist and strain and shape what and how we say. To remember that we’re not necessarily at the centre of everyone’s world: there’s a whole host of other factors in play.

When I got ill, I didn’t get this.

I was so busy listening to what everyone around me was saying that I mistook subjectivity for objectivity, fiction for fact; I leapt to a few conclusions about myself that were based on mis-interpretations; and, in typical human fashion, I hooked in to the bad bits and forgot about the feel good stuff.

I condemned myself without a fair trial.

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2 Responses to “The Pig Nose Story”

  1. Sue S says:

    Thanks for this – it is really so relevant to me, and how I formed my opinion of myself when I was very young. I can never quite find the words to explain it, but you have put it beautifully.

  2. melissa says:

    Thank you – realising that my self perception was built on a totally flawed premise really helped me to move forward and I’m still reminding myself that an opinion is only an opinion – and not the truth!