“Who ARE You?” (How I’m Perceived)

December 23, 2014

A few interactions have happened to me recently that make me wonder – how am I perceived?

I was talking to a friend of mine – a pretty good friend, who is up to date on my life and knows a lot about me. I mentioned something about studying for my final exam. He was surprised to hear I had a final exam, and asked me about the class I was taking.

I said I was taking a class at Harvard Extension about the state of the American school system, and he said, “Who ARE you?!” He then elaborated basically saying, “just when I think I know everything you’re up to, I find out more. Kidneys, volunteering, running – that seemed like a lot already. Now you’re in college classes? How do you find time?”

Not too many days after that, I hung out with a different friend ’til 3 in the morning(!), which was pretty incredible. I hadn’t had one of those silly, talk and talk until you realize it’s 3 kind of nights, for a long time.

Anyway, we were up and talking about how it was practically the morning. He asked what I was going to do that day. He said, “Well, you’re Aurora. So, I assume you’re going to run a marathon, stop by a soup kitchen on your way home, and work on saving the world in the process?”

These were the two specific instances that stuck out most to me. But they weren’t isolated. There were even a few additional smaller things that happened recently too…

And then I wondered, “Who do you all think I am?!”

I know this post is starting to sound sort of like a humblebrag. (Sorry!) I genuinely appreciate the compliments/confidence from people… But I’m not writing this to make myself look great. I’m just writing this to explore my thoughts, because it’s interesting to me how we view ourselves differently than other people view us.

I mean, I dunno. I guess it makes me feel good that people think I’m up to cool stuff… But I hadn’t been feeling very cool in the recent past.

Basically, without delving too much into too many details (of wondering if I took the right jobs once stuff fell through, etc.), I feel like I’ve been falling short lately in what feels like a myriad of ways. So to hear people say they still had this great view of me… It of course makes me happy. It also makes me ponder…

How deep are people’s perceptions of us? If we struggle for a few months, does no one notice (assuming we can somehow get everything back together)?

Or, do we maybe look cooler on social media than we really are? And do people just assume that our life is fabulous everyday, even if we feel like we’re on that little hamster wheel going nowhere sometimes?

I guess as I’m saying my thoughts, I’m realizing that I don’t think I know where this story is going… Do any of you ever have a hard time reconciling who you think you are with who other people think you are, and trying to find who you “really” are somewhere in the middle?

Is there one version we actually are? Or are we layered individuals who will never been seen the same way by everyone – possibly even seen in wildly different ways from one person to another.

Are we ultimately whatever people think we are, since perception is what seems to matter most? How can we get a great assessment when our own judgement is colored by every minute detail about ourselves? Or does that give us the best view of all since we technically maybe know ourselves better than anyone else does?

Basically, I want to say thanks to the people who ask me, “Who ARE you?”

You inspire me to be better all the time. I love hearing that! It makes me so happy to surprise people, and feel cool, like perhaps I really might be doing a lot…

Hearing that “who are you” idea makes me crave to hear it more. So, I want to do even cooler things!

So, thank you for pushing me.

I’m sorry if this post came off lame or conceited or anything. I’m really not trying to say I’m all cool and stuff as I question things about my life all the time. I’m just saying, sometimes it’s nice to hear other perspectives… And it just makes me think. And sometimes I think out loud here on this blog… The end!

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?