The Power of Perspective

I'm reading a fantastic book, Managing the Equity Factor. One of the key tenets of the book is that communication changes people's perceptions of reality. This anecdote from the book is so compelling that it warrants its own blog post. For context, this is a letter written from a freshman in college to her parents:

Dear Mom and Dad

Since I left for college I have been remiss in writing to you. I am really sorry for my thoughtlessness in not writing before. I will bring you up to date now, but before you read on, please sit down. You are not to read any further unless you are sitting down. Okay?

Well, then, I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture I got when I jumped out of the window of my dormitory when it caught fire shortly after my arrival here is well healed. I spent only two weeks in the hospital, and now I can see almost normally and get those sick headaches only once a day.

Fortunately, the fire in the dormitory and my jump was witnessed by an attendant at the gas station near the dorm, and he was the one who called the fire department and the ambulance. He also visited me in the hospital, and since I had nowhere to live because of the burnt-out dormitory, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him. It's really just a basement room, but it's kind of cute.

He is a fine boy, and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning to get married. We haven't set the exact date yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show. Yes, Mother and Dad, I am pregnant. I know how much you are looking forward to being grandparents, and I know you will welcome the baby and give it the same love, devotion, and tend care you gave me when I was a child.

The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has a minor infection, which prevents us from passing our premarital blood tests, and I carelessly caught it from him. But I know that you will welcome him into our family with open arms. He is kind and, although not well educated, he is ambitious. Although he is of a different race and religion from ours I know your often-expressed tolerance will not permit you to be bothered by that.

Now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you that there was no dormitory fire,. I did not have a skull fracture. I was not in the hospital. I am not pregnant. I am not engaged. I am not infected, and there is no boyfriend in my life. However, I am getting a D in History and an F in biology, and I wanted you to see these grades in their proper perspective.