And so, this week, we have a newcomer in our midst. Perhaps: of the worst kind. A thinker. An observer. And it gets even worse: he writes. Yes, our new intern wrote about us in a blog and some words are still ringing in my ears: paper-strewn desk? I am short?
Damn. No one has mentioned this to me before now. Life has changed forever.
All of my work to stop guessing . . . I mean, imagining . . . I mean . . . . worrying about what I project into the world has flown out the window . . . if I could only find it beyond the papers on my desk.
This isn’t intended to hang the new guy out to dry. There will be plenty of time for that in the months to come. (Just kidding.)
But rather, perhaps it is time to reflect on those words my mother said to me countless times: Who do you think you are?
And is who I think I am who you think I am? Or does it really matter?
Whenever I think about this, my thoughts return to an old sit-com in which a couple accidentally overhears the biting criticism of their erstwhile closest couple friends, who just happen to be their next-door neighbours.
This single half-hour comedy skewed my world view for a lifetime. Are my friends really my friends? What do they say when I am not around?
Am I tiring? Am I too calm? Do I talk too much? Not enough?
And this question from friends (in various situations): “Do you want my honest opinion?”
Come on. Why ask? Now I have to say yes and prepare for the worst.
The crazy-making part of the whole “Who are you?” question is that different people like us or avoid us and it’s really on each of us to decide who we can tolerate.
There’s not much any one of us can do to “make” someone like us or think better of us.
The entire perspective/attitude thing is in the eye of the beholder, I think.
Most of us know that, but still, we flounder and rail against being wrongly judged by someone.
We all want to be well thought-of, appreciated, respected, understood (maybe most of the time) and we want to leave a blazing trail of kindness, witticisms, wisdom and patience in our wake. Maybe some good works and some good words, too.
The truth is, only we ourselves know the kind of person we are. We show different behaviours depending on the people around us and on the day, too. Our personal traits guide our behaviour but we are all on a continuum, too, which is not necessarily a straight line.
If I am impatient with you today, I may apologize tomorrow. I am not an impatient person all the time.
I cannot end without saying that the honesty, from those we trust, who care about us know us well, is a good thing, even if it hurts a little in the moment. Sometimes, even a view from the outside can give us pause.
I will still be short tomorrow.
But I may clean up my desk.
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