The Essence of Perception

Many people told me what to expect when I came to Korea… lol.

It will be easy to get around… It will be hard to get around if you don’t know Korean… Everyone speaks English… Koreans don’t speak much English… Koreans love black people… Koreans can’t stand foreigners… You will make a lot of friends in Korea… Koreans are really shy… The culture shock won’t last long… It is difficult for minorities to adapt in Asian countries… Koreans are really (fill in the blank)… It won’t feel like you’re in a foreign country at all…

The list could go on.

Even though many of these things I mentioned sound like obvious contradictions, let me boggle your mind for a second: all of these perceptions are correct.

But, how?

They are correct to the people who experienced them. I think “perception” is one of those concepts that many people think they consider when talking to others, but often times do not. I feel as if many of us think we “take things with a grain of salt,” but actually don’t. The verdict on this for me on numerous occasions stands as extraordinarily GUILTY. In the case of Korea, it could not have been truer. There were many instances where I would reflect back on times when people told me about what to expect in Korea, and, when life here didn’t go according to how people said it would, I would think to myself: Have they lost their minds?… How did they ever come up with that conclusion?… Were they high the whole time they were here?… Were they trolling me when I was seeking advice?!… Was this a joke?!

Now… before I wrote off all of these folks as frauds, I took the chance to interpret what was actually going on: differences in perception. That’s it.

I will say, my experiences in South Korea are/were nothing like what I imagined they would be, and definitely nothing like what anyone told me it would be. Thank God. Though in certain moments that reality is/was extremely stressful, I am equally grateful for all of the unexpected surprises, the discouraging disappointments, the bizarre bewilderments, and the meaningful revelations that have come from this rather risky adventure of mine. But clearly, I would not have been able to properly appreciate these pleasures and challenges by simply listening to what other people told me… which is why I wander… and wonder.

So I urge you… Encourage conversations. Listen to people’s experiences. Consider possibilities. Seek them out on your own. Experience life for yourself. Then, come up with your own conclusions. And, share them too. There’s room for all of us.

I truly find it fascinating how perception allows certain extremes to coexist within the same entity. Different people can view the same item, experience, or situation and potentially come up with different conclusions. One can see triumph; the other, loss. One can see naivety; the other, curiosity.  One can see joy; the other, pain. We are all created with different identities, and we all hold fast to certain beliefs and experiences that impact how we view even the most intricate things in life.

Literally, everything is subjective; and within that itself, I perceive beauty.

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