Assumptions. We all make them and I’m as guilty as any – if not more so. But really, how can you ever know what someone is thinking, what someone is experiencing? Even if it seems oh so certain?
Adrian came in the other day from the pub (nothing unusual there, you might assume, and you'd be right). But then he said – ‘I was talking to X and, y’know, he’s really struggling.’ And he looked incredibly puzzled. ‘I’d got it all totally wrong,’ he said. 'I had just assumed...'
What had he assumed? That this guy, maybe because of his accent, his bearing, his attire, whatever, was moneyed; that he had family dosh lurking in the background to bail him out. Wrong. Very wrong. I had a similar thing at university. Because I went to a northern college and had a Surrey accent, people assumed I was wealthy. Ditto at City Limits – I was allegedly the ‘rich bitch’ who’d been bought a flat by her parents. Er, wrong. I scraped together a deposit for a flat by subsisting on crackers for a year and camping on my grandmother’s floor. If I recall, at that particular time my “uber-rich” daddy was in Pentonville because he couldn't afford to pay his tax.
|And that's just another assumption.|
But it’s not just about money; it’s everything. And I'm not simply talking about lazy stereotyping, about the whole judging a book by its cover thing. I'm thinking about people we know; people we think (assume) we know (though how can you know anyone, really?). We think people are thinking about us; we think people aren’t thinking about us. We assume they like us or don’t like us; we assume they are disapproving of us; we assume they’re having a hissy fit and so on and so forth. A lot of the time, of course, we’re projecting our own feelings onto them so it’s always worth turning it around. Whatever you’re thinking, does it really apply to you? You think people don’t like you? Maybe you don’t like them; or maybe you don’t like yourself?
But generally we turn ourselves into mind-readers. All in all, we just think way way too much.
Sometimes it's just plain funny.
'You're angry with me,' said James.
'What makes you think that?'
'You look angry.'
'How do I look?'
'Well, you're sort of frowning and your eyes are crinkled up.'
'Maybe I'm just suppressing a fart.'
'Oh. So you're not angry with me?'
But then again, is there any point? Because, of course, you can ask but someone can lie, or dodge the question, or simply not answer. And then, of course, we make a whole fresh pile of new assumptions.
And then again again, we can all change our minds in the blink of an eye, so really…when is anything ever true? When is anything ever certain? Hanging onto certainty is like catching raindrops. So why worry? And there's certainly no point in assuming because, even if your assumption was right a moment ago, maybe it isn’t now.
Funny old world, innit?
|Am I assuming too much? :-)|
Then again, this is just personal stuff, right? Like individual interactions. Sometimes, I think (ho ho) that we don't think enough (or open our minds wide enough) when it comes to other stuff - but I'm not even going to get into the assumptions we make on a wider, social scale - how we jam our brains shut when it comes to politics, religion, economics, science etc. Sometimes things seem so black and white, don't they? But, hey...try paddling in grey. Challenge every assumption. About everything. Always.