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Defying Appearances
by Terry Barlow
06/01/13
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Yesterday I left the workroom to use the restroom, something I couldn't do because there was already somebody doing exactly that. So I waited a moment with no result and decided to return to my work station and try later. Then when I did try later it was available, but I noticed that I hesitated to leave my station a second time so soon after the first time bacause it might "appear" that I was unsettled or too prone to taking breaks. I wonder how many decisions little or big are made from the pressure of the guilt of how they appear. I knew from the circumstance that I wasn't shirking, but I was close to ignoring a biological need just so it wouldn't appear that I was. That's how powerful peer pressure is and not only among adolescents where it is better known. It is alive and well among adults too and can cause us to ignore legitimate needs in ourselves or others all for the sake of appearances, so that we can stay "in step with" the group. How much healthier it is to trust ourselves enough to do what we need to do, say what we need to say, be where we need to be, and let the chips fall where they will, indeed, if they are going to fall at all. When I was in high school a girl named Sara wet herself in the middle of Civics class bacause the teacher waved off her request to go to the restroom. She was traumatized by it of course, and the teacher stood dumbfounded before the class, unable to respond. I hadn't planned to share that experience, but it is an example, however extreme, of the consequences of the tyranny of appearances.

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