Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Being Misunderstood

A young co-worker recently lamented on her Facebook page that she felt misunderstood. It is not only the young who feel this way. Much of my life I have felt the same way. As I get older it is easier for me to accept but like most people I would like to not only be loved but also to be understood. Much of my life I have felt like a fish out of water or someone who is on a different page than most of the people around me. Why have I felt this way? It brings up the question, "Who am I, really"? I read an interesting thought recently that said when two people meet, six people are in the room. There's the person you think the other person is. There's the person the other person thinks you are. There's the person the other person thinks they are and there's the person you think you are. Finally there's the other person as they really are and the person you really are. When I walk down the street, strangers only see one more middle aged, gray haired man hobbling along. In the workplace, where I am virtually a senior citizen, some of my co-workers may see me as a cooler version of their father or, God forbid, their grandfather. Even within my immediate and extended family I do not believe I am seen as I really am behind my face. Perhaps the clearest picture of who I am is a picture no one ever sees. It is me as I am when I am alone. Of course, I understand that the way I see myself and the way I hope I am is not necessarily who I really am. The whole question of who I am and what forces in my life formed me into who I am fascinates me. I sometimes wonder what those who know me really think of me. Who or what do they see? If they like me, what is it about me that attracts them? If I turn them off, why? Sometimes, however, this concern about my reality, other's perceptions, and whether or not I am understood is tiresome to me. As I get older I sometimes find myself caring less and less if I meet others expectations, if I am understood, or if I am even liked. There's a perverse freedom to be found in not caring about these things. Additionally, it can also feel like a great blessing to be an introvert. Yes, I like people and I want to be loved and understood, but I am also quite happy with my own company. I don't really need every one's approval and I have learned to live much of my life without being understood by most. Perhaps another kind of freedom is also having enough self confidence to walk around without any masks and boldly trying to be who you are.


Littlefair said...

As I get older I find myself caring less about what other people think. I could be incredibly wounded as a young man by people's reactions or feelings towards me as somehow I felt it was a reflection on me or that perhaps I wasn't good enough and couldn't please them. I'm getting more and more comfortable with whom I see in the mirror and as time goes by I realise that we can't please everyone all of the time. Just being me is enough. Of course there are a few ground rules that get thrown into the mix: values, morals and ethics that I like to live my life by but other than that I like to feel that I'm an ok person. And so is everybody else. But we're all different and therefore it's ok to disagree.

Having said that I received some very harsh and stinging feedback from a client yesterday which stays with me now. I try not to let it affect my current mood and try just to be in the moment but sometimes it creeps in and I'll be grumpy with the kids. BAD DAD! Mostly I try and box it up and leave it on a shelf till the next time I need to work on it.

Thanks for your insights Michael. (I realise I've simply paraphrased your article! It must have rubbed off)

Je pense donc je suis.

reena said...

Dear Michael, I concur with what you say in that as I too get older I care less about what people think. As I journey more into awakening and therefore perceive the world differently to most, there is also a great chasm between 'normal' perception and 'awakened' perception. In the end I think your home becomes 'being true to yourself' and then it matters less which of the 6 people are in the room more prominently. But at the same time it's so nice to be able to find people who get this principle of different roles / images. Keep writing and being that hippie. :)