“Not everyone deserves to know the real you. Let them criticize who they think you are.”
This meme crossed my social media feed today. It emblazoned me with the urge to bash one of my exes and had me thinking. Who is the real me, who does and doesn’t deserve to know that person, and who do they think I am?
The real me is complicated. By no fault of their own other than being human (such a nuisance really), most people see only what suits their own schema. I may have friends where no polish or pretense is needed, but even they have expectations and beliefs about who I am as a person. They don’t realize and wouldn’t understand just how differently we think, how opposite some of our values are, or how I really can’t stand their choice of beige, beige, and beige (No, really. Are you color blind?).
Schemas are great. They help us understand our world. We experience, we remember, we associate, we build understanding. The frameworks and concepts we create are how we categorize our world. Girl. Boy. Horse. Dog. Heuristic techniques are wonderful for easy and fast judgements.
Schemas, however, shouldn’t always be the rule of thumb (see what I did there?) when you’re discovering who a person is and what makes them that way. Not everything can be approached this way. Rather than accommodate any new and different information, most people put the outlying behavior in a separate box. Disequilibrium is uncomfortable. Stereotypes exist for reasons. We shouldn’t have to change how WE think of something simply because it isn’t ALWAYS that way… right? Like marriage… or sexuality… or gender… Your definition is not my definition is not her definition is not their definition…
Wow, did I digress.
SO! Is it our own fault that our friends or family do not know the “real” us? Perhaps that was my digressive point. I had a hot to cold and quite destructive relationship for a few years. I went into it an educated, self assured, confident, generally content adult woman. I have my childish whims. I love whimsy. I have a billion facets and interests that make me who I am and drive my passions. But… It was all casually chipped at in ways I didn’t notice at the time. What was annoying or frustrating at first, I began to accept with resignation. Pride can only withstand so much. My self-confidence was shattered, I abandoned many things I loved, I became more distant with MY friends to accommodate his life and schedule and desires… And then I realized after nearly 3 years that I wasn’t the one being criticized by him… it was the girl he THOUGHT I was. He’d made up his mind about me being some typical privileged white girl and put me in that box. He’d assimilated me to fit his schema. Never was there an accommodation of the new information. When I broke his mold, I was “crazy” or not “being myself” and it wasn’t acceptable. I still haven’t regained so much of what I lost because of him. He took a great deal from the me that makes me real and whole.
The person who knows as CLOSE to the real me as possible is probably my mother. She’s seen every rise and fall. Breakups, graduations, loss, hurts, successes, adventures, and all the many many things that have built me into who I am now. I think one or two people beyond that ever came close to the real me. The one is someone who saw me and all the facets of me in ways to this day I still can’t comprehend. It aches knowing and feeling it still. I dated a beautiful, beautiful man after the death of my grandfather. We had been friends and he was a major part of getting me through the destruction that my grandfather’s death left behind. He was one of the sweetest, kindest souls I’ve ever known and I’d like to think he got to know the real me. The bad, the good, the in between through some very rough years.
In the good relationships, the bad ones, and the friendships, I have never concealed a part of me in shame or kept any part of me from them. Some look but do not see, and others are willing or perhaps able to see it all. So is there blame on anyone’s side?
My ever so long winded point… I agree with the quote. Not everyone deserves to know the real you. The ones who do will show you they are deserving. They are the ones who won’t put you in the box they decide you fit in and keep you there, shutting the lid on your head until it fits the right shape.
The worthy are the ones who reshape their box, redesign their schema, and make room for you. I’m an enigma. I don’t fit your box, and I’ll challenge what you think even a box is half the time. Maybe it’s worth it to you. Still, I’ve recently quit fighting to make people see me. Some don’t want to – like my ex. Some simply won’t or can’t. But life, time, and energy are precious. I’m not wasting it anymore on defending who I am and trying to create seers out of the blind.
So I say criticize away, because it probably isn’t the real me you see… And whose fault is that?