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How to Balance Appearance and Reality

Posted Aug 18 2014 10:04pm

Posted in , | August 18, 2014 |


By guest author Traci Lawrence

What is the difference between Appearance and Reality?

According to,

appearance [uh-peer-uh ns] – the state, condition, manner, or style in which a person or object appears; outward look or aspect.

reality [ree-al-i-tee] – the state or quality of being real; something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.

Reality is fact while appearance is perception. For example:

  • The clown in the image to the right appears slender in the mirror, but he is overweight in reality.
  • A small dog may appear to be cute and cuddly while the reality may be that it has a bad temper. (I remember when a small dog chased my young daughter down the block while he was barking and snarling.)
  • An actor may appear to be as confident and tough as the character he is playing while the reality may be that he is shy, or reserved. (Clint Eastwood is a good example.)
  • A generously-sized student may also appear to be confident and tough while the reality may be that he lacks confidence in the classroom. (The movie, The Blind Side, is a good example.)

A discussion on Philosophy Forums states that what may appear to be reality on one level may not be reality on a different level. For instance, while our computer screen may appear to be rectangular to the naked eye, it would not look rectangular when viewed on a molecular level. In other words, the perception of appearance and reality has to do with the way we organize, or perceive, information.

On the hit reality show, America’s got Talent, there are many examples of people who haven’t successfully identified their own strengths and weaknesses. Many contestants feel that they are talented in certain areas, when they really aren’t. For instance, many of the comics aren’t funny, and many of the singers have untrained voices. Amazingly enough, the untalented contestants think they’re talented. For them, appearance differs from reality.

After eight seasons, I have learned how to identify the contestants’ strengths and weaknesses:

  • The contestants’ true strengths, their “realities”, always make viewers and judges react in a positive manner. In other words, they make people smile, gasp in awe, or say “Wow!”
  • The contestants who are playing to their true strengths will make people laugh “with” them, not “at” them. It’s the difference between a clownish, clueless comedian and a classically funny comedian.
  • The contestants who are the most talented are the most humble.

We can reconcile our appearance and our reality through humility and self-examination. We can ask ourselves some questions, such as:

  • What do I do that brings a genuine smile to peoples’ faces?
  • What craft, or knowledge, have I spent years perfecting?
  • For what real strengths have I received compliments?
  • On what hobby, or activity, or pursuit of knowledge do I spend most of my free time and resources?

We can live within our own reality by admitting our weaknesses and living within our strengths. This may be difficult. It may require that we face some hard truths: maybe we don’t sing as well as we thought, or maybe the people that we work with don’t think we’re as easy to get along with as we think we are.

The reality is that, if we don’t admit our weaknesses, we aren’t going to move forward in life. If we live only within our weaknesses because we are fearful of living within our truth, we will block the way to finding our true selves. We won’t live an authentic life.

For a long time, I didn’t live an authentic life. I was trying to live as an outgoing person who wasn’t concerned about what judgmental people might say. I seemed to be socially awkward. Deep down, I was a shy person.

The truth is often hard to bear, but we must embrace our truth if we wish to move into a more fulfilled life.

How have you identified your strengths and weaknesses?

Traci Lawrence writes about her true strengths: overcoming obstacles, nurturing relationships, and effective communication. She lives in the United States and teaches elementary school. Please visit her blog , and read her book: Accept No Trash Talk

As an example, I may think that I play golf well. Yet, if I have not spent years perfecting my game, I have received no compliments about my golf skill, and I don’t spend a lot of my free time at a golf course, I may not be as skilled a golfer as I think I am.

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