You don’t know me at all

You were right, she doesn’t like you.

I told CoWorkerA that I felt bad for CoWorkerB.  “She had to travel with me on our last job, all that time in the cab to the airport and then at lunch, I’m sure she was miserable.  I tried to not be too annoying.”  I said it with a smile, but I meant every word.  CoWorkerA said in reply, “You know, you’ve said that before, and I never believed you, but the last time we were all working together I saw her make a face when you walked in the room. You were right, she doesn’t like you.”

That’s not like you.

A friend pointed to the chipped polish on my fingernails and said, “What’s going on? That’s not like you.”

It isn’t?

I don’t wear nail polish often.  But when I do, it always ends up chipping off slowly, sometimes for weeks, because I can’t be bothered to use nail polish remover.  And I like chipping away at it.  It gives me something to do with my hands.  I get the same sort of pleasure doing that as I do picking a scab or peeling sunburned skin.

When he said those words to me, I realized that even though he and I had known each other for years, even though we’d had some really intimate conversations (if we’d been single, we might have dated) he didn’t know me at all.

With that one statement, That’s not like you, memories of things he’d said about me filled my mind and formed a picture of a person who didn’t resemble me at all.

That person was sweet, professional and even a little simpleminded.  That person had clean, neat fingernails and never bit them.  It was a picture of a person he wanted me to be.

My relationship with that friend disintegrated in that moment. That might sound extreme, but don’t worry.  I don’t think he will notice.

If you knew what I was like, you wouldn’t like me.

I wonder if anyone really knows me.  Even when I speak to people who are very close to me I filter my thoughts, choosing words, tone and facial expressions so as to not offend or annoy.   These are people who will love me regardless of what I do or say, but it makes life easier for all of us when I think before I speak.

By default though, I am not nice. If you knew what I was like, you wouldn’t like me. My initial thoughts are harsh, unforgiving and judgmental. My expectations for people are very high, and I am often disappointed by how human and fallible everyone is.  I say that with no hypocrisy as I am equally disappointed in myself.  I should have / could have done so much more with my life by now.  And so should have you.

I am an acquired taste.

I have nothing in common with CoWorkerB and there is no harm done by the fact that she doesn’t like me, but I still want to ‘fix’ the problem.  So I talk, a lot, when I am around her.  I fill the space between us with words. The illogical, emotional side of my brain thinks if I talk enough I will find the magic phrase to make her understand me.

Why do I do this? I am not lacking in friends. It is ok (really) that some people don’t like me. I know I am an acquired taste.

You don’t know me at all.

Even if we could read each other’s thoughts, we still couldn’t know the experiences of the lifetime that created the foundation for those thoughts. There would still be the issue of translation.  Everyone’s perspective is based on their own unique perception. There is no way to alter that. There is no way to make someone else’s perception your own.  We are all alone with our own view of the world.

I can not remove my ‘self’ from this body and move into your body. I cannot see the world through your eyes or walk a mile in your shoes. I don’t know you at all.

And now, reverse the pronouns.

You can not remove your ‘self’ from that body and move into my body. You cannot see the world through my eyes or walk a mile in my shoes. You don’t know me at all.