If you are ever feeling reasonably good about your ability to see yourself as others see you, definitely eavesdrop on some strangers complimenting you so you can chuck your bravado around that ability right out the screen-less attic window of your confidence.
I don’t know why I’m even remotely shocked that I perpetually have no idea how others see me, up to and including my own husband.
I mean, for sure, I have gleaned that he digs me more than he does other folks. He thinks I’m funny and has managed to not run away screaming when I refuse to shower (which is frequently whatever our country is being run by actual white supremacists fuck a shower ok). But, why he fell for me? No clue. He’s told me, and I still don’t know. The same goes for friends — they tell me, and I still, somehow, don’t know.
*I do know. But it’s like…knowing I’m tall to some people all the while knowing I’m actually just slightly above average in height. Any time I hear a positive appraisal from someone, I slap that sucker into gray and definitely unnecessary context before I’ve even fully absorbed the remark. It’s not exactly negating what was said; it’s refusing to allow that outside perception to impact my assessment of myself.
And it’s that last bit that leaves me in astounded rippling canals of confusion at myself. If I so stoutly refuse to let someone else’s articulation of my presence in their life affect my own in any ego-comforting way, why would I then spend even a second being surprised that I don’t fully process what they see when they look at me?
I stumbled across a thread on a friend’s wall, where she had shared one of my blog posts, and a bunch of people had commented. (I have grown very leery of checking shares of my stuff on Facebook; one time I had an opinion about GoT and it was EVIL and WRONG and HORRIBLE and good gawd why can’t I just be ok with gratuitious rape scenes and rampant glorification of misogyny why oh because I’m basic I see oh ok cool thanks.) The folks on this particular thread, however, were handling the blog as though it was just a random article share. They were commenting accordingly, with quotes and emoticons and general praise. Then, someone mentioned that they started reading the rest of my stuff and wondered how they’d missed my writing thus far.
And I realized, these people are saying exactly what they see. This person is saying she liked my ish enough to jump in and read more and then go and tell my friend about it. That is a real thing that happened and it is about me, and I can either deal with that perception of me and what it might say about the way that I communicate, or I can trot off and continue to think everything I do is futile*.
*tangential: it is highly possible that my more-pervasive-than-usual sense of futility is fueled by my fuckshit country, and my observations re my ability to hear other people’s perceptions of me are just coincidental. anyways.
I grasped, however sloppily, that these folks could be exactly, 100%, right about what they saw in me, my writing, without that sum total contradicting my own personal, painstakingly assessed one. I then realized, all at once, Cerebro style, in a never-ending cascade of moments and instances of people I have hugged between my lungs like life itself, that the way my people see me is a truth that makes me whole. That I am doing both them and myself a disservice by not embracing that reality.
I guess this is all just fancy talk for me finally learning how to take a compliment with my bewildered heart instead of my skittish ears.