Assuming the worst (or best)

Am I concerned about what people “assume” about me? Unless it is something particularly harmful or dangerous – no. For example, if “they” thought I was a mass murderer, I would find it necessary to correct them. Seriously though… Does it matter very much?

On Instagram, we can assume a lot of things about each other.

Nowadays, with social media erupting in (and disrupting) our lives, many people are wanting to project a certain image and to become an “influencer” (what do influencers do, actually?). It is not surprising that Instagrammers are very concerned about what others think of them. Posing in bikinis at the beach, or in their most glamorous evening wear – or wearing not very much at all, showing off their wonderful physique – they want others to assume a certain something about them. They are exciting, they are hot, they are charming, they are sweet – perhaps that they are wealthy and living the good life, posing in front of a shiny car or beside a gleaming pool.

So, we assume lots of things about them as we scroll through Instagram… Rightly or wrongly. But the subject of our scrutiny wants us to assume all the good things about him or her.

I am a day late with the Bloganuary prompts, but the question is: What do people incorrectly assume about you?

My answer is: I don’t really know what is going through “people’s” heads. They may be incorrect, but I wouldn’t really know.

There are a few things that I have noticed crop up fairly regularly, however:

That I have lived here for just a few years and don’t know much about Jamaica (I was born in London, UK, but have lived here for 35 years and have been visiting here for even longer). That’s when people usually say: “Oh, so you’re Jamaican then!” And we smile together.

That I cannot understand (or speak) Jamaican patois. Well, I cannot actually speak it without sounding ridiculous, but I understand 99.99 percent of it. I confess though, that when a man from deep rural Jamaica spoke on TV the other night, I understood about one quarter of what he was saying.

That I am an outgoing, extrovert person. Actually, this isn’t true. I like to stay home (the extended COVID experience has suited me fine) and am most happy with my own company – and my husband’s, of course. I have always been quite introverted. When I am out and about, I am pretty friendly. I am not shy.

That I am pretty well off, financially. No. I am certainly not! End of story!

This is what election campaigns in Jamaica look like. This is a file photo (not current) from the Jamaica Gleaner. I am neither green nor orange.

One “label” that Jamaicans love to use is the political one. If I make one comment on Twitter, then I must be a Jamaica Labour Party supporter. If I make another comment, I must be a People’s National Party supporter. Neither is true. I will support anything positive and forward-looking that any politician is doing (there hasn’t been much to shout about, lately!) and I do have political views, but they are not partisan. So don’t assume I am a supporter of one party or the other; I will disappoint and confuse you!

The other thing is religion. Jamaicans are “God-fearing” people. That is fine with me. People, especially those of my generation, are often quite shocked to know that I don’t go to church and am not a Christian. They just assume that I am God-fearing, too. Besides, my beliefs are my own, and really nobody else’s business.

Speaking of spirituality, I came across this article just yesterday. It seems appropriate. It is entitled “Selling Fake Goods in the Marketplace” and it is on the website of Plum Village, which was founded by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

It seems to me that one of the greatest transformative gifts we can offer to the world today is authenticity…It seems to me that at this moment in time, the world doesn’t need more “saints”, she needs more real human beings, she needs the authentic you.

Brother Phap Hai, Plum Village

Just be your authentic self. Don’t worry about what others “assume”… Unless they assume you are a gang leader or a child molester, of course.

Then you need to set them straight.


14 thoughts on “Assuming the worst (or best)

  1. This entry spoke loudly to me. First I am way behind on my posts. Secondly, I am agnostic but because I grew up in the South (USA), speak with a Tennessee accent, and know quite a bit about football (the religion of the South), I am a Southern Baptist Church goer not an agnostic, that my slow Southern drawl indicates a lack of intelligence, and that I love football (not true–married one time to a football fan.) I loved the quotation form the Plum Village website. Hope to always be “authentic.” Well done!

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    1. Thanks so much! It’s amazing how quickly people can have you all summed up and put in a convenient little pigeon hole – a compartment, if you like! Voice, appearance, accent, a little bit about where you come from – and they have you all summed up! Even your likes and dislikes (what? You don’t like football?) I came across that quote and love it too…and it seemed appropriate. You might as well just be YOU! Thank you for commenting!

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  2. Yes, Emma, we jump to a lot of wrong conclusions about a whole lot of things. You actually know far more about Jamaica than the average Jamaican.

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    1. Oh Catherine!!! Haha. You don’t have to go around with a fixed grin on your face! I have a superb photo of you in the back of our car coming down from the mountains – unsmiling and peering through the big spiky leaves of the bromeliad that had fallen down in the road!! (We put it in a pot and it is now ten times the size in our yard!)

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  3. Jamaica has been a lot in my life recently — I have a new Jamaican friend who introduced me to Black Cake or Christmas Cake with black sugar (and loads of rum) — so your thoughts were nice to read. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments! Yes! Black cake and sorrel (a drink) are standard Christmas fare in Jamaica. You can read more perspectives from Jamaica here! Thanks and have a great 2022.

      Liked by 1 person

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