Throughout my lifetime, I can recall the instances in which I got the look. It was typically given to me by what I can most tersely describe as “left-brained people.” They’ve squinted their eyes, raised their eyebrows, and scrunched-up their noses at me without even attempting to hide that they were questioning my sanity. However, in my youth I’d existed in a blissful ignorance, never suspecting anyone of doing this to me until one day….
It was junior year of high school. Somehow I ended up in the school psychologist’s office getting evaluated. She spent the whole morning building up my trust, as she asked me questions about myself and what I wanted to do with my life. After lunch, for the heck of it, she gave me an IQ test. Her reaction to my scores was nothing short of shocked, as she explained that they nearly slid off the right side of the bell curve. At the time, I was too young and naïve to consider her reaction insulting.
A few weeks later when I was poking around my father’s office, I came across a small stack of papers; my psychological evaluation. I smiled as I flipped through the first few pages, gloating to myself over the test scores and my newfound Mensa qualifications. As I began to read her written analysis of me, the smile began to fade. I don’t remember any of the report’s details, except for this one phrase that I am still unable to forget, “Hayley lives in a fantasy world.”
I was stunned. I stared at the stark white document. I took a mental inventory of my evaluation day and tried to figure out what had caused her to write that. It was the first time I began to question my sanity. Was it usually considered insane to have lofty goals and aspirations? Even then I wanted to be a writer. The way I thought and perceived the world around me was actually quite positive considering my home life. I could taste a rich and exciting future, even though at the time I was living from week to week off paltry tips from my crappy waitress job. I knew one day I would experience exciting travels. Even though at the time I had barely left New England.
There was nothing unique about the way I was thinking. For the most part I knew that most people projected a future that gleamed with excitement because…well why wouldn’t they? Was I wrong? Do people in crummy situations keep themselves going day to day by picturing the future as something bleak? If I had described my future as hopeless and mundane perhaps she would’ve instead written, “Hayley is severely depressed.” Or maybe if I’d described an especially frightening outlook, she would’ve put me on a suicide watch.
Even though years have passed I often think of what she said, that I “Live in a fantasy world.” Each year as I evolve as a person, I prove her more and more wrong while I slowly complete small and large life goals one by one. I have never thrown out that paper. It sits in the bottom of my desk under other useless trash that for some reason I cannot bring myself to-and probably never will- toss away.
The words on this paper serve as an example for many lessons, but two very important ones come to mind. The first lesson is to never let another’s opinion too greatly affect your self perception. I for one am (and have always been) perfectly happy existing in a “fantasy world.” And secondly, always be careful with your words and actions. You never know when you are dealing with a future writer or artist who might one day mock your professional opinion in their work.