When You’re Not Looking

When You're Not Looking pic

They say you are what you eat, and if this is true, my diet consists of mixed nuts and mixed stir fry. You know – things that are jumbled or have some sort of layers.

“What about a cake? A cake has layers!” quoth Donkey from “Shrek.”

I’ve noticed that a good chunk of my favorite flicks are children’s movies, and I think part of it is because they tend to reveal a larger truth through a series of one-liners that make kids laugh but are really aimed at the adults watching them.

More now than at any other point in my life, I’ve become frustrated with the one view others seem to have of me. It will vary from person to person, depending on what the context of our relationship is. I know I shouldn’t be that annoyed; it’s impossible for anyone to get a real picture of who you are as a person because the person who spends the most time with you is, well, you.

But it’s hard not to be annoyed.

Just today, someone said to me, “I’m pretty good at reading people…I’m going to try to read you.”

Sure, yeah. How much of my figurative “text” will you really be able to get through in a span of five minutes? I hate it when people make general assumptions about me, although I can to a certain extent understand it because we all only spend a certain amount of time with each other and only give a certain amount of ourselves to others.

I’m always afraid of running into people I went to a Christian elementary and middle school with, as those years were not very kind to me, overall. Those years provide very poor examples of who I am at this moment in time.

Fast-forward to the present. I’ve evolved significantly since then, mostly due to natural, kid-to-adulthood maturation, but also because there’s so much that I have to be now that I never had to worry about when I was in grade school. I have to be so many things that it’s almost impossible for me to know which person I am the most.

To be frank, the person I would like to be is who my dog thinks I am. The person I would like to be less like is who I am when I’m driving in rush hour traffic. But realistically, I’m pretty sure it’s the person I am when no one’s around.

These days, it’s been harder than ever for me to be consistent in what face I put on for the world to see.

Work, for example, has been consuming most of my life. I like my job the good majority of the time (seriously, if any of my employers/coworkers have stumbled across this link and are reading this, please know this!), but when you work an average of 50-60 hours a week versus the 40ish you clock in for, it’s hard not to let your work persona to overlap into your everyday self.

Likewise, it’s hard not to let my more introverted self spill into every other area of my life.  Sometimes my reserved-ness is misconstrued as me being stuck-up, nervous, even me being a b—ch, or lacking a sense of humor. Sometimes it’s interpreted as some air of “mysteriousness” some friends say I give off when a dude is involved, but I resent that (seriously, there is nothing you can’t find out about me by simply asking. Really.).

But what I think all these situations have in common is that the 6th-grade personality I thought I left entirely behind manifests itself whether I like it or not. That part of me is always seeking some sort of validation when I don’t know which of my personalities—if any— is making the cut.

Social media makes it easy for us to put up a front of how we want others to perceive our personalities. For the most point, the persona I put online pretty much hits who I perceive I am. But of course, it’s easy to post something witty, relatable, embarrassing-but-not-too-much-so, a flattering pic, or a recent accomplishment than it is to publicize anything that will guarantee less than 10 “likes.”

They say you can’t be a different person for everyone, but I don’t think that’s totally true. I’ve been many things to different people (none of them bad, necessarily), as required by various situations.

I don’t think this makes me two- or multiple-faced. People use the word “two-faced” at the wrong times. There’s a difference between being malicious and being polite in front of people you don’t necessarily like. A “spiritual” person could just be someone who does three different yoga poses a day, and a wine enthusiast could be someone who just likes to get hammered. An avid reader could just be a reader of comic books. Just because someone doesn’t come off as a bitter person doesn’t mean they aren’t, and someone who claims to be a private person while blabbing on and on about their “private life” is the opposite of a so-called private person.

I don’t really know where I was going with this, but maybe it’s also a healthy reminder for me to realize this truth about those I encounter. They too are more than what I see and more than what they want me to believe about them.

How interesting people are.


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