Have you ever been asked that question? When people say, “Do you even know me,” usually it’s intended to stop the person addressed in his or her tracks. It is often posited as proof that the addressee has utterly misperceived the nature and intent of the situation to the point where he or she must not know the questioner at all.
I’m going to flip that question on its head though with a reply of, “Can anyone ever really know someone that completely?”
Most everyone I know has the desire to be “seen.” Not in a fame sense, but rather an external validation of how they see themselves and the image they want to present to the world. For a long time I had that desire, but in retrospect I was cheating everyone out of seeing me in my entirety. I would give them the pieces of me I thought would be aesthetically pleasing to them and hide the parts that I thought would displease them or cause them to decide that I wasn’t worthy of their time or friendship.
While having a heart-to-heart with one of my sisters yesterday, I used the analogy of a quilt. She is a wonderful seamstress (though she humbly plays down her skills) and her best friend is a master quilter. I conveyed to her my past of showing only what I thought would be acceptable person by person and she gave me an amazing visual example. She took me upstairs to her guest room and showed me the latest piece her friend had made. I photographed sections, akin to the sections I would give to the people in my life.
This is my fun side. Showing that everything doesn’t require symmetry, and I can go with the flow. It was often the representation of myself I gave to my wilder friend groups, or in some cases what I showed to people who wanted to confine me to a box based on what they thought they knew of me.
This is my intellectual side. Attention to detail, complexity, and intricacy. I often shared this with anyone who I felt the desire to impress. I didn’t want to be seen as the stereotypical dumb blonde incapable of depth of thinking or understanding the world around her. The recipients of this section rarely if ever got to see the fun section of me.
By chopping myself up into bits and pieces I thought people would like or handle, they missed the big picture…and it was by my own doing. By not wanting myself to be put in a box, I had inadvertently placed everyone in my life in little boxes of their own. And to what effect? What resulted was an entire circle of friends and acquaintances who couldn’t possibly know me or be expected to.
It also had an effect on me. By hiding the whole picture of who I was, I was telling myself that who I was as a whole had no inherent beauty on its own. My misplaced stitches and asymmetry in comparison to things I found more beautiful was “less than” and therefore unworthy. I remained unseen because deep down, I was afraid to be seen, and then judged, and ultimately rejected and ostracized.
Looking at myself under a microscope was the problem. My own self-judgment and my focus being highly attuned to my flaws clouded my thinking. I’ve since come to realize that most everyone around me is struggling with the exact same issue. Maybe if we panned back a little and showed everyone the whole picture, they could find the beauty in it. And even if some people don’t, I can almost guarantee you that the right people who are worthy of you will.