Wednesday, 2 July 2014

"That's correct Wendy, we all wear masks, metaphorically speaking."

Good afternoon and welcome back.
This blog is becoming a bi-monthly treat.

I've had this subject brewing in my mind for several months now, and after a sudden burst of passion have decided to write it. I apologise that it is quite long and also ramble-y.

Today, I ask the questions- 1. Are we all just trying to prove ourselves? and 2. How much of our lives are affected by what other people think of us?

I have met people from all walks of life, with varying wants, interests and problems. I am used to dealing with different people every day at work, customers and staff, but the one thing that seems to tie the majority of people together is insecurity. I do not claim to be an expert on psychology or body language, or any of this, however, I do like to think that I am quite good at analysing the people around me. I genuinely take in a lot when someone speaks to me. I try to break down the front that they present and see who they are underneath, try and figure out what has made them the way that they are. I'm not saying that I am able to figure everyone out, no one could do that, but it seems clear to me that most people I meet on a daily basis are just insecure individuals, trying to prove themselves in some way.
As children, this is basically all we do. We want to make our parents proud, we perform for them, we draw pictures, we try to win the talent show, we want to help with grown-up tasks and show that we are big, we want to put on make-up and look grown up, we compete with our siblings, our friends, do everything that we can to prove that we are the best. We are actively encouraged to be like this. So actually, it's completely natural that this translates into adulthood. 

We are all trying to prove something, to paint a picture of who we are, or at least who we want to be perceived as. 99% of conversations that I engage in on a daily basis, involve someone feeding me information about their life, highlighting something that they deem impressive about themselves, or that in some way confirms that they are worthy of liking. On the other hand, there are those who want you to know how tough their life is, how much they are suffering, and in turn how strong or admirable they are for getting through it. People will find a seemingly subtle way to draw attention to the parts of themselves that they want you to see, and build this ideal profile.

It makes me wonder how much of everyone's whole life is about this. Is this the primary reason for the majority of our actions? Did we go to University for ourselves, or to prove that we're smart enough? Do we go for jobs because we truly want to, or because we like the perception that they create? Or indeed the perception that the money, or the objects that the money can buy, will create? Do we dye our hair, get tattoos, wear jewellery, all just to present an image of who we want others to see? I think partly, Yes. 
It's definitely something to think about.

I am not saying that this is all bad, or that it makes us stupid, or weak. Or that I am not guilty of this myself. In fact one of the most interesting points about this subject, is to look at how it affects you personally. Would I even write a blog if I wasn't trying to prove that I'm smart or insightful in some way? Would I upload photos to Instagram if I wasn't showing off about my day, or my new purchase, or my new hair cut? I honestly don't know the answer to this.
It's all so contagious. Naturally, we want to relate to each other, and so we find ways to show that we are the same.
Think of Facebook and Instagram: friends uploading photos of a party, a holiday, a heavily filtered and well-angled "selfie", their perfect child, checking themselves in at a bar, painting a picture of this wonderful, colourful, interesting life, and making you feel like you have to prove that yours is just as great. By the same token, most of us don't draw attention to any of the negative aspects of our lives on these platforms because it would ruin the profile that we want to create of ourselves.
I am the biggest culprit for never sharing a photo that is a true representation of me; if it draws attention to my weight in any way, then I will delete it, and will only share the ones that highlight my good features. 

Neither am I saying that this is the only reason that we ever do anything, or that everyone is completely contrived. However, I'm completely fascinated by the idea of your basic self. The person that you are underneath the mask that you wear everyday, who you would be if you were unaffected by external input, who you'd be if you didn't feel pressured to follow fashion, or gender roles or cultural trends. (I know this is all getting a bit deep...)
Who would you be, if you didn't feel the need to prove yourself all the time? If you felt completely secure and comfortable with who you are, how different would your life be? I can only dream of the freedom that that would bring.

I guess it all stems from worrying about what people think of you. I try to live by a phrase I heard from RuPaul- "What other people think of you, is none of your business." I know that this is true. Anyone else's opinion of you, doesn't affect you, and has no real place in your life unless you want it to. However, it is so much easier said than done, and takes so much work. 
I can't decide if living in a world where no one cared what anyone thought of them, would be a better or worse place.

The spark of passion that ignited, and that inspired me to write today was whilst tweeting. I spoke about how I find so many people unlikable these days. I find so few people relatable or sometimes even tolerable lately, and it's all basically because we live in a world with far more speakers than listeners. It's so difficult to actually enjoy a conversation because so many people are not listening, but simply waiting for their chance to speak. It has all become about ego. It truly is a shame. If we would just give the time of day to listen to each other sometime, we might hear so much. I worry that we don't know very much about our peers at all anymore, what with so much coming from our online persona's anyway.

There is no doubt in my mind that I have become a little bitter and resentful from being hurt in the past, and from bad experiences, and have in a way become part of the problem. I am much less likely to want to get to know anyone, or let them in now and so I guess I'm limiting my own opportunities to hear something new or insightful from anyone else.

As for the whole proving ourselves notion, I think this will always be a part of life. Personally, I am forever trying to look at myself and the reasons for my own actions. My journey to becoming the sort of person who does things for me and no one else, and who is not affected by what people think of me, will probably be a life-long one. 

What do you think?

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