I was in a tattoo shop this past weekend. I wasn’t getting a tattoo. I was getting a couple new piercings.

I’ve been contemplating these two piercings for several weeks – I’m not generally the type of person to go in and get any kind of body modification done on a whim. I’m a “plan-it-out, overthinking for weeks or months and then maybe finally get it done” type of person. But the one thing I did not think about was jewelry.

Generally you don’t have much of a choice in jewelry when you’re getting pierced. You have to use the jewelry that’s best for fresh piercings, which tends to be pretty boring. So I hadn’t really thought much about jewelry when I went in. I knew it would probably be either a fake gem of some sort, or a plain metallic ball. I’m not generally a person who wears a lot of gems. I did when I was in college, but I haven’t for a long time. Normally my go-to neutral is pearls (fake pearls, most of the time).

So when I was faced with the decision of what color gems to wear in my ear for the six to eight week healing time, my first inclination for the larger piercing in my inner conch was teal, and black seemed like a good choice for the other one.

Long story short, I let the piercer’s personal preference overshadow my desire for black and teal (to match my tattoo sleeve and also a good half of my wardrobe), and ended up with a light blue flower that I may wear again in the winter, and a bright royal blue gem that I’ll likely never wear again once the healing period is over.

My favorite color is blue, but I rarely wear “real” blue. It’s not good with my skin tone, and interestingly enough, the artist who does most of my tattoos recognized that right away. My sleeve was originally supposed to be black and a more royal blue, but he switched it to teal because the blue would have been too harsh on my skin. When I saw the colors, I knew he was right, and I’m grateful to him for recognizing that when I didn’t see it myself.

The tattoo artist has a better eye for color than the piercer, it would seem (which does kind of make sense, when you think about it). And I’m kind of annoyed that I allowed myself to be swayed from what would have been a great color choice in my ear to one I’m already tired of. It’s going to be a long 6-8 weeks of staring at that royal blue stone before I can take it out and get rid of it for good. Mea culpa, of course.

All this got me to thinking about how we perceive ourselves vs. how others perceive us, and how often that actually translates into us changing how we look and maybe even act to please others, even if it’s on a subconscious level. I know I’ve changed my appearance to a certain extent because that’s how someone else (or several someones) perceived me. I’ve also refused to change some things because no matter how much people wanted me to dress a certain way or be a certain type of person, I just…can’t, and am not.

For example – dresses and skirts. Lots of people, men and women, have told me I should wear more dresses/skirts. I look good in them, and people aren’t shy about saying they like them on me. Thing is, I hate them (or most of them). I feel incredibly constricted in a skirt – even a long one – because I’m constantly having to watch how I move and how I bend over or that I don’t catch a hem or that the hem doesn’t ride up too far…it’s a very high-maintenance thing for me to wear a skirt, and while I’ve tried wearing skirts and dresses here and there, it’s just not who I am.

But I did cut my long hair off pretty much solely because people kept telling me it looked better up. And I can tell you, without a doubt, that the short style has directly affected how people perceive me (for the better) and also how I act (which isn’t something I really want to admit, but there it is). I keep it short for that very reason.

Perception is a weird thing, and the lengths we will go to in order to alter or bend it to what we want is pretty amazing, whether we’re doing so consciously or not.

Deep thoughts for a Tuesday, eh?

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