Humans are complex beings- yes, that’s probably the understatement of the century. We all possess an array of different personas that we adopt depending on whoever’s company we happen to be in. For example, we present different faces to our boss, our friends, our siblings, our partner and our colleagues, but most of the time this switching of masks comes naturally, we don’t premeditate it at all. Now my question is, which one is the real you? Is there a real you?
Personally I’d say that the ‘realest me’ is the person that I am when I’m one on one, with someone who I feel values my opinion and isn’t judging me, with no obligation to please or impress them. But at the same time that ‘real me’ is constantly changing and evolving the older I get and the more life experiences that I have, it’s not a fixed state of being. I don’t believe that there’s a ‘fake me’ so to speak, maybe just a slightly more polished persona that I bring out of the closet every now and then when needs be.
Okay question number two: is there anyone on this earth who you believe knows you completely inside out? Meh, I’ll answer that for you: no. Let me explain, nobody, not even the people who are essential parts of my life know absolutely everything about me, there’s no way that they could! For example, some of my absolute bestest friends have no idea that I went to an after-school street dance class for a couple of years when I was younger, or that I stripped a thick chunk of skin from my left shin the first time that I used a razor, or that I cried myself to sleep every night for a week when my grandma and cousin passed away within hours of eachother. Why don’t they all know these things about me you ask? Well either they didn’t know me when said events occurred and so I didn’t bother to mention them because they no longer apply to my present day life, or I didn’t feel the need to share because by sharing I’d be dwelling and sometimes I find that it’s better to keep things moving, for your own sanity. But that doesn’t mean to say that just because they don’t know each and every little detail about me, that they know me any less.
I think that there’s a big difference between knowing a person and knowing information about them.
Think about your parents now. It’s so hard to envision a world in which they were young couples, with actual lives and identities that didn’t revolve around you or your siblings! But just because you may not have an in-depth account of their lives (pre-you), doesn’t mean that you know them any less, right? You may not know what they did in the summer of ’77, but you do know exactly how they react when stuck in traffic/whether they like to wear socks or have bare-feet at home/the difference between their authentic laugh and that staged one that they put on for guests…surely that counts for something?
I don’t believe that there’s any person on this planet who can know about absolutely every experience, thought and feeling that you’ve ever had (unless perhaps they’re your conjoined twin and you share a brain and heart, but even then I’m slightly sceptical). Even if somebody made it their life mission to figure you out, it would be impossible! And I guess that gives us all a natural air of mystery, which is pretty cool. So I suppose the answer to my initial question is: no, we can never truly know a person. However, I do believe that we can understand people, and if that understanding is strong enough then surely that’s all you need…
To truly understand someone you have to spend time with them. You have to share experiences, and not just good ones, bad ones too, that’s the only way that you’ll be able to figure out what makes them tick. And when you start to recognise their mannerisms and all of those odd but endearing quirks that they retain, when you’re able to anticipate their reactions to things, realising what makes them angry, passionate, affectionate etc, that’s when I believe that you truly understand a person. It’s knowing when they’re feeling awkward or on the brink of bursting out with laughter: it’s the little things. 🙂