Theory of Mind

Updated: Jan 19, 2020

|Author: Kayla|

I did a double take. A shiver ran down my spine

Swastikas enveloped the walls around me. I felt-- as many of us have on this trip-- sick to my stomach.

After numerous swastika symbols and hours of growing terror, I was finally informed that these symbols were not what I thought they were. In fact, I discovered they were actually ancient Sanskrit symbols widespread in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. After learning this, I immediately grabbed my phone and found that in Buddhism this sign symbolizes the footsteps of the Buddha, and in Hinduism it represents good luck. Despite no longer being petrified, I still was rattled by this. How could one symbol have such vastly different definitions?

My mind was racing. I thought back to just two weeks ago when my high school, along with two others, were vandalized with swastikas and the words “Six million was not enough.” That symbol alone devastated my community. How could the same character be ubiquitous in a different culture?

It was in this moment that I realized each of us live in our own reality. We each hold our own perspectives which shape the way we view and interact with the world around us. I thought back to one of my psychology classes in which we learned about the Theory of Mind. This concept refers to the ability to understand that others have different ways of thinking about the world.

Just a few days later, I encountered this concept yet again. After I introduced myself to Biome, I was laughed at and told I would be made fun of. It was then when I was informed that Kayla actually means banana in Hindi. This was another experience in which my interpretation of something was different than those around me.

I wonder how many times I will experience this?

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