Perception of who I am

Picture from NY Daily News

For some reason I had the impression that, when I was at Durham, everyone in my management team was bigger than me. There was an element of truth in that as I am not exactly amongst the biggest of people. I believe however that I am of average stature. Looking back there were two tall people and two around about the same height as me.  

For some reason though I feel that I have always been surrounded by tall people yet that cannot be. That isn’t what being average means. It is more likely to be a matter of my perception.

Like a lot of people I talk to I have long suffered from imposter syndrome, in which high-achieving individuals (not my words) are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and suffer from a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. I have sat in many a meeting thinking that someone is going to stop the proceedings and demand an explanation of the reason why I think I should be there. Even after twenty years in a very senior position within several organizations, I still suffer.

My perception of height is an extension of these feelings. I am now convinced that I see others as bigger than they are as a subconscious way of playing down my significance. It is as if I make myself smaller then I won’t be noticed.

I was describing these feelings to my good friend Justin who is taller than me. HIs impression was the opposite. He did not see me as a smaller person but more of someone of a similar stature. He told me he had never thought about my height. Perhaps my contribution has made me bigger in his eyes.

Being human is a complicated thing. Perception is much more important than reality.

At times I project a larger person than I really am.

2 thoughts on “Perception of who I am

  1. @Phil – thank you for this, an eloquent and courageous sharing of natural and human vulnerability. IMHO we can all meditate on our self-limiting beliefs and thus aim towards being grounded warriors of the light.

    I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

    We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

    Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

    There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

    As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”” as per


    As per Marianne’s quote, children have ‘buddha nature’, atman [insert your term here].

    Therefore, what do we need to let go – what courage do we need to find – in order to be the role models we long to be, and how can we shine from within and feel proud of our place in our world?

    I look forward to continuing our journey when we next meet. Onwards!

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