Is perception reality?

What we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell; this is reality? Right? What is real or real to us is what is presented to us, and how we perceive it. My view of reality is likely just ever so slightly different than everyone else's. Our lives and the lives of those we interact with color our view, and change what is real to us.

Those that know me well know I'm big on truth. It's a long-standing goal of mine to be as honest and upfront about who I am, and how I feel, as I can be with any given person when the situation allows. Most people can't handle 'the real me', which is why I don't show it to them. That, along with each person's life experiences, forms the idea of who I am to them. Most people have it very wrong.

A good friend of mine, very recently, advised me on why they think I have such trouble getting close to people... or more, them close to me. She said I'm "too honest". She meant it as a compliment as she, like I, respects that kind of honesty. She also was right, though. When you present people with the whole truth of a situation they generally can't take it. Personal reality is a powerful thing. It's how we construct our lives. When that is shaken the foundation of how we see the world and ourselves is brought into question. Some people also seem to feel that level of honesty is expected in return, which also is an uncomfortable thing. The average person can't even be honest with themselves not to mention others.

The more I thought about this I realized something, despite how honest I am, there are large parts of me that I cover up. Things that shape the core of who I am, how I see the world, and the people in it. Things that I just don't share. By doing so I not only fail in my attempt to be open about myself but I also paint an inaccurate picture of myself to those that know me. Even worse, a few days back I caught myself covering up a part of myself not out of conscious thought, but totally out of impulse. I'd become so used to doing it that it had gone beyond choice and became a part of me. At that moment I knew I had to stop, take control of my life back from whatever it was I'm so afraid of. I don't even remember what that is anymore. Sure there are things about me that some people will not be comfortable with. There are even things that may cause a few people to not talk to me anymore, or new people I meet to decide not to in the first place. Outside of the possibility of some professional relationships that I might harm, people that aren't willing to accept me for who I am, 100% who I am, I don't need in my life.

If you've made it this far you likely fit into one of a few groups. 1) You are already my friend, as I define a friend, and nothing I'm going to say beyond this point will be of any surprise to you. 2) We know each other rather well but some of this you may not know or may have only suspected. 3) We're acquaintances, follow each other on Twitter/Facebook but don't really know each other, or work together, and much of this you didn't know. 4) Lastly, you stumbled into this and can't find your way out.

Since you're still reading you're prepared to know the bits about me that you think maybe you don't. I prefix the following with this. I have never been of the "loud and proud" people about anything. I am not saying this to get attention, push it in anyone's face, or further any agenda. This is my personal expression of who I am, what makes me the person you know, and hopefully like. If upon reading what follows you question your relationship with me, whatever it is, then I ask you first question your view of your world, and what defines it in your eyes. If you liked me before, then you already liked what these things mean to me, and how they've shaped me. This is my life, who I am...

- I love my friends. Let me be clear on this. I use the term friend very exclusively. There are people I've known for years with whom I am very close, who I do not think of as my friend. There are those I've known for a very short time which I do. If I call you my friend that is functionally equivalent to me telling you that I love you. Furthermore, I do not define levels of love. I don't love someone 'like a brother' or use any such restrictions on my emotions. That does not mean I necessarily have romantic feelings for my friends, it just means that those I call friends all hold a very special place in my life, and I would do anything for them, give anything for them. If you are one of these people you know it because I've told you. If you feel we are friends by your definition but notice I never use the term, now you know why. We probably are friends, by your definition, just not mine. That doesn't mean I don't care about you, just means I don't love you, at least not in the way and to the degree that I love.

This last one is the one that I've kept the quietest. I've been more vocal about it as of late, even so of all of those that will read this only about 1% of you will already know. That being said many of you will likely realize you were aware of it without knowing it once you read it. This is one thing I just didn't tell people. There's a part of me that even now feels that I shouldn't, but this is also the thing that I caught myself covering up as an automatic response.

- I am pansexual. I can be rejected by 100% of the world's population. I'm not selfish, I'm not confused. I don't like men and women and don't feel I'm entitled to be with both. I simply don't have a preference for the sex or gender of those I would be with intimately. I do have a bias toward feminine people, I just tend get along with them better and bond more easily with them emotionally. Most of my friends are, and always have been women. From a purely sexual standpoint, to be honest, I prefer men. For day-to-day life, it all balances out, and it's approximately equal most of the time. In my experience, and of those of the other bisexual/pansexual people I know with whom I've had this conversation, we are among the least understood of the LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender) group. We stick out because we break the rules. Also in my experience, we're more understood by heterosexuals than homosexuals. That isn't saying much, but it's the way things seem to be. It's been said that homosexuals "don't trust us". We also are accused of feeding into the idea that homosexuals chose to be so because we 'choose'. I can no more choose who I am attracted to than anyone else. I just have a much larger pool of people I can meet, get to know, develop a crush on, then find out they're seeing someone else, or have them tell me I'm a "good friend". I love, I feel, no different than anyone else; have the same issues with love and relationships. Yet I'm made to feel out of place because of my lack of defining preference. I admit that I have had very little experience with this feeling directly, but I have watched my friends experience it, and as it affected them so it did me as I knew had I been open I would have received the same treatment. I realize now that I've been doing the same in this part of my life that I didn't want to do in the religious part. It doesn't mean I'm going to put a rainbow sticker on my car... though I don't rule that out. It does mean that when situations come up where I could comment honestly, I will... and it means when people unknowingly insult me, I will let them know they have.

There are, of course, a lot of little things about me that I don't always share, some of them aren't so little, but they have no place in a public forum. For that reason, and because part of the joy of making friends is getting to know new things about people, I will leave much behind the closed doors where they sit... but if you've come this far, and still want to know me, the real me, I welcome you to get to know me better. There are those who would say it's worth the time spent. Those people are my friends. :D