Friday, February 24, 2012

Me or the Me You think I am?


Bougie Confession Time - having worked in HR for so long, I have a tendency to make snap judgments about people. I label them and put them in whatever category I see fit. Many, many times I've had to pull them off shelf A and moved them to shelf J with an asterisk and a post-it note. One person I thought was funny, engaging and a friend turned out to be sneaky, wily and a foe. One person I thought was shallow and bland turned out to be shy and funny as hell once you got to know them. So I never 100% let on what I think about someone until I've known them for a while. And even then... I tend to keep my thoughts to myself.

Sometimes it takes a little time to see the real person rather than the person they are trying so hard to show you. That's why shows on @DiscoveryID like "Who the Bleep Did I Marry?" and "The Nightmare Next Door" are so frightening - you think you know somebody...

So imagine my surprise when I caught up with a friend of mine from our college days. If asked, I would have said that I thought she knew me fairly well. Catching up with her on the phone this week, I realize she did not know me at all. Granted, I've changed a bit since college but I think at my core, fundamentally - I'm still me.

She mentioned something about me being more studious than fun-loving and a stickler for the rules. She thought of me as old-fashioned and not the most spontaneous person in the world. Hmm. Like most people, I'm old-fashioned in some aspects and forward-thinking in others. I can only assume that by old-fashioned she was referring to the fact that I didn't have a 'Now Serving' sign by the bed?

I like to laugh, I'll make situations that are uncomfortable easier by infusing humor. I spent a good bit of my college years tee-heeing when I should have been doing other things. I had no idea what kind of rules she was positive I stuck to... unless by rules she meant city, state and federal laws? I thought about asking her where those perceptions came from. I thought about telling her things about me to change her mind. And then I decided it just wasn't that important in the overall scheme of things.

Anyway, the whole conversation sent me to a reflective place. And I wondered how many people know the "Real Me" as opposed to the me that they think I am. If I had to make up a survey about myself, what would  I even ask? How hard is it to deduce that I love all things purple, I have affection for chocolate, shoes, fruity wine and tropical beaches? But what about a few layers deeper? Who could answer questions about that Michele?

And then I wondered if this is something I really need to know. Suppose people that I think know me don't and people that I'm sure don't know me at all hit it right on the head? Therein lies drama. Anyone who has ever taken a "How well do we know each other?" Cosmo quiz with their s/o knows that path is fraught with danger. 

I think I'll just assume that the people that I want to know me... know me well enough and if not they will surely figure it out in due time. The rest I'll leave alone.

BougieLand, how well do you think your friends and loved ones really know you? How important is it to you? And what , if anything, would you do to change their perception? How well do you think you know those closest to you? Thoughts, comments, insights?

44 comments:

Mo said...

"I think I'll just assume that the people that I want to know me... know me well enough and if not they will surely figure it out in due time. The rest I'll leave alone." *in my best MJ voice THIS. IS. IT*

There is a saying by a  Yogi Berra that  I live by: "For those who know me, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not know me explanation is impossible.

OneChele said...

Love it!

aishao1122 said...

uhmm that way leads to a whole lot of problems, just as you said. I can tell you right now not all my friends know me like my family does, or like my partners do. I don't know why but ever since I was a child I have kept my friends, family co-workers, and acquaintances separate, it's always been my m.o. which is why I'm always shocked to know people know each other. Good topic

TrulyPC said...

I used to get caught up in the idea that people were misreading who I am (serious, old-fashioned, reserved) and I went out of my way to show them that they were not completely correct.  That they were relegating me to only part of who I am.   After a while the endeavor became exhausting because I just didn't care what people thought.  Those that were around long enough got to know me more and those that didn't well it didn't matter.  Some know what others don't and I am more than okay with that.   

BklynBajan said...

Those Cosmo quizes did cause a lot of drama back in the day.

I would say most of the people in my life don't know me at all but frankly I don't care anymore. I used to care a lot but I've realized that *most* people are comfortable with whatever label they've assigned to you and are unwilling to make any adjustments and I no longer have time to waste to explore the "why's". It's not my job or desire to prove anything to anyone. Turning 40 helped me get rid of a lot of the "fluff" that was in my life. More time to do me now!

SingLikeSassy said...

Once when I was at a baby shower with a boyfriend and his mom, I sat chatting with mom (who was usually very quiet and reserved) and she told me all these stories about when she and my beau's dad moved to the states from the Caribbean and where they lived and how they struggled together etc.

On the way home after dropping his mom off, I was telling my beau that I loved the stuff his mom shared with me and he was quiet. Then he asked me, "and what did you share with her?" I was puzzled. He said, "You have a knack for getting people to tell you everything about themselves while revealing nothing about you."

This man always felt like I held part of myself back from him.

If there is ONE person who "knows" me it is Mr. XSLS. He is the one person I have ever been completely open and honest with and, why not, he was my husband. I think that is partly why we have been able to continue to talk and laugh (once I got done being hurt) is because, even though our marriage crashed and burned, at the core there was a strong connection and friendship.

I've tried to be open on my blog, but even there I hold back.

Lady4Real said...

Hi, my name is Lady but you can call me Frank because franklyI keep it frank, lol. I am an open book. I can't read minds and I don't expect others to read mine so I happily disclose answers to questions asked of me. I also am very talkative and will tell on myself without a second thought. I wear my heart on my sleeve and those closest to me don't have to think much when it comes to me, just need to listen because I will certainly spill the beans. On the flip side I'm not the most observant so I can misread, not notice or be totally misinformed about those in my circle. But my heart is always in the right place.

The_A said...

I think there is a big difference between friends who know things about you from being in your life for years & people who just get you If one person incorporates both you are truly blessed

blackprofessor said...

 You have a knack for getting people to tell you everything about themselves while revealing nothing about you." - Sassy, me and you are here on this!

CaliGirlED said...

"I've realized that *most* people are comfortable with whatever label
they've assigned to you and are unwilling to make any adjustments and I
no longer have time to waste to explore the "why's". It's not my job or
desire to prove anything to anyone. Turning 40 helped me get rid of a
lot of the "fluff" that was in my life. More time to do me now."....Welp, there's my comment!

Lady4Real said...

Funny story about taking quizzes on "How Well Do You Know Your S/O" 2 years ago I was at my Bachelorette Party, my Maid of Honor discovered a drinking game for the Bride to Be. I had to answer questions about my future hubby and every time I answered incorrectly I had to take a shot. I was mad ass hell that I was drunk by the end of the game, even my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law said my hubby answered some questions incorrectly but that didn't keep me from having to take those shots. The next day I asked the future hubs the same questions and he gave the answers that I had given the previous night. I was right, he was wrong but I was drunk nontheless,lol.

blackprofessor said...

I think people who are astute, observant and self-aware know me very well be they family, friends, partners or colleagues!  I have found that people who exclaim the "I don't know you very well" are usually self-absorbed and/or lazy.

I do think a little mystery is a good thing, especially in romantic relationships.  I like the idea learning new stuff about my SO, as long as it isn't major stuff or deal breakers.  For me, the mystery prevents boredom and complacency. 

CaliGirlED said...

I will copy and paste something I said earlier this week, "Until you have had QUALITY conversations with me over varying degrees of
life's issues, you DON'T know me! And then there are people who think
they know you because they have known you for years, but still don't
know you because, like ASmith said, "you know a lot of what I want you to
know". Some people are just not interested in genuinely knowing
you anyway. They just want to know their image of you, not who you
really are."

I'll add this, if the last time you had a "quality" conversation with me was 5+ years ago, you may want to take time to re-familiarize yourself with me before you assume you still know me.

GrownAzzMan said...

Like you and most have said, people by and large know what I want them to know. This varies greatly by how close I am to them and how much trust there is. I think there are two people in my life that know more then most but even they don't know everything and the things they each know are not the same. As for what the rest of the world knows or think they know about me it is really none of my business.

GrownAzzMan said...

Nodding. Like the folks on facebook who you have not really interacted with for years but still think they 'know' you.

ASmith said...

I'm having to learn to accept that I don't make getting to know me at my core super easy for people.  That doesn't change the fact that it's possible or that I expect anyone who calls themselves a close friend of mine to meet that expectation.  For the most part I think my good friends know me and know me very well.  I have a few who are in the dark, but it's just best that they stay there.  I don't know that everyone is supposed to know you all the way to your core.

ASmith said...

YES!  Some of the people I've known the longest have the hardest time figuring me out.  I hope I'm not the same as I was at 15 or 17... my mother struggles the most with this, but we're making headway.  :)

ASmith said...

I will always let people believe exactly what they want to about me.  If you don't want to do the work to see if your ideas about me are right or wrong, who am I to force you?  It's a lot of folks running around claiming to know things about me and they're all off base.

Of course, I also had to adjust to having things said about me that were wrong and hurtful, but these days I find it funny and have been known to do things to encourage folks to keep thinking the wrong thing.  What can I say?  I believe in consequences and repercussions.

CaliGirlED said...

Amen!!!

CaliGirlED said...

And Amen!!!

tishatweets said...

"If there is ONE person who "knows" me it is Mr. XSLS. He is the one person I have ever been completely open and honest with and, why not, he was my husband. I think that is partly why we have been able to continue to talk and laugh (once I got done being hurt) is because, even though our marriage crashed and burned, at the core there was a strong connection and friendship."

This. And my mom.

I used to think, once upon a time, that, as far as a man went, I would never be comfortable sharing as much as I shared with and being known as intensely as I was known by my ex-husband. Couldn't fathom it being possible. Now? I'm looking forward to it.

Growth. Go me! :)

Cha Keziah said...

I just had this conversation with a potential beau. He explained to me that while I believed I was an open book, people only knew what I wanted them to know. He then elaborated that I was a better friend to others than they were to me, because they didn't really know me. I was silent, then realized all he said was true, and said "what do you want to know?" ;)

All that to say: yes. I believe, again, that I am related to Chele, Cali, and ASmith. and this aptly describes my attitude right now: "I think I'll just assume that the people that I want to know me... know me well enough and if not they will surely figure it out in due time. The rest I'll leave alone."

Tonda Williams said...

I realize that many people THINK they know me, but after a more than superficial conversation or two, they admit a) they knew only who they THOUGHT I was or b) knew the me I showed them. I'm an enigma, with multiple layers that I've finally come to fully embrace. Because I ONLY communicate after I've fully processed, analyzed and am comfortable, many have been surprised to learn that their impressions were WAY off base.  

SingLikeSassy said...

"I used to think, once upon a time, that, as far as a man went, I would
never be comfortable sharing as much as I shared with and being known as
intensely as I was known by my ex-husband. Couldn't fathom it being
possible. Now? I'm looking forward to it. "

This. THISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. But, then I realized that part of why it happened with him is because *I* let it happen. So, it can and will happen again, when I'm ready.

thinklikeRiley said...

I ont know Riley yet. So ain't no one else gotta clue.

ClayJones said...

To be perfectly honest, there are people I'd just assume not know or have them know me. We don't all have be that tight. There are some people that at first impression, I know all I need to know. They may surprise me later but generally not.

As for me, I've always played my cards close to the vest until I've built that level of comfort. I'm not for everybody and I'm good with that.

Grace said...

Old girl's face in the picture is priceless.
I think I can count on one hand the number of people who really, really know me. Unfortunately, I can not count any of my prior s/o's in that number :-(

Tonda Williams said...

YUP Riley YUP.......

Jesse said...

 Real talk.

Angel Blanca said...

I would venture to say that most people have glimpses of who I am, but few, if any, know who I am in my entirety.   I am the type of person to draw other out, rather than reveal me, and this has a lot to do with why I say most people do not know me, at my core.

I also think that many people tend to relate to the part they know and then extrapolate from there to other areas, perhaps even assuming that because they know someone with similar traits, you must share other traits with them, as well.

So, how does one, who is largely introverted, become known by others?  I find that I'm eager to get feedback on this, as it's hard to make new friends, and I'd like to be able to add deeper friendships and relationships to my life?  Jayme, do you have any suggestions?

rozb said...

I thought a friend knew me well, then found out - meh, not so much. Even my mama didn't know me as well as she thought, and she knew me the longest! Even here in Bougieland, we have made some great e-friends, and many of you guys have met, become great friends, and even dated and married. But I have enough respect to not assume I am like your play cousin and just say anything out of pocket to anyone here (although I will get my e-thug on and kick a ninja in the thoat for acting a fool up in here!).

I don't even know myself that well. The job I am currently in - I was originally hired to be a technical writer, but the folks who hired me saw "Business Development" in my future. So now I am working in Business Development and interacting with customers and developing contracts and proposals. And I love it! Who knew I even had the patience and attention span for it? Just goes to show I did not even know I had it in me!

Sol_dier said...

I find people have space in their lives for people, no matter who you are they simply slot you into that space until they are ready to see you differently.

I know me. Thats enough. Not even my family know me that well, they simply project this image on to me. i spent years trying to show people who I am, but it was a waste of time. 

Marioned said...

There is always a difference betweeen how we view ourselves and how we think other people view us and how they really do.  There is some psychological  name for this phenomenon and a chart that goes with it.  There is something to be said for hearing repeatly something different about yourself.  It may not be who you really are but a image or a vibe that you give off!
 
Also its all relative.  So depending on the measure..........

no comment said...

He then elaborated that I was a better friend to others than they were to me, because they didn't really know me
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am reserved by nature so I know I am not a open book. 

GammasWorld said...

I'm in the "tell me about  you while I share the basics club".  A skilled fine tuned and honed by my dysfunctional childhood.  To be in tune to the moods and triggers of the adults in my world was the difference between  someone gettin an azz whooping and the house sleeping peacefully.  But somewhere along the way, I got the message that to make myself known to others was also to make myself more vulnerable and I saw vulnerability as a weakness.  Nope, not gonna use me against me.  No siree.  I think we all have a piece of ourselves that is known only to ourselves.   Like Chele said, the people I want to know, know me well enough and will continue to learn more as our relationship (friend or otherwise grows)  ... the rest I'll just leave alone.  

Brneyed1 said...

The older I get the more I learn about myself, so I don't know how anyone else could possibly know it all.  

CaliGirlED said...

We don't all have be that tight.<----THIS

CaliGirlED said...

This is so true! And the bigger problem becomes when you grow and people don't want to "accept" the continuous improvement that you make. They want to keep you in the box they know you in because that's what safe for them. I don't necessarily remove those kinds from my life, but I definitely re-categorize them in my files (life).

Reggie Kray said...

Funny how you can be around someone or spend sometime around people and they only know you through their eyes and they really never take the time to find out the real you. 

happinessisme said...

Honestly, I would say that my family members don't really know the real me. My mother loves to talk about how "different" or "weird I was/am. I don't think I'm different at all. I do think it's funny that I'm expected to act one way or another based on other folk's expectations of me. I have a few close friends that know a lot about me but even now, they only see so much of my personality. I also discover that my different personality traits come out or stay hidden depending on the person. 

heavenlyhumble said...

The real me....that's a good thought.  I am 32 and finally starting to develop/become the woman I was destin to be.  The real me is still emerging from the tender shell of a woman-child.  When I turned 30 then and only then did I really start to become the real me. Its been a fun experience so far. 

Jeannette said...

I have a lot of people around me who are more so intrigued by me but don't know the REAL me.  I'm ok with that.  I like just having a handful of people who know the real me.  The rest of people I can be who I am to them because we share something in common in 1 aspect but I might mean something else to another group of people.  I'm a chameleon like that.

Sophia said...

Cognitive dissonance

Sophia said...

lol, I blame Cosmo too!

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