(Published July 2016)
25 years of age, young, self-made, attractive, and persuasively confident. A naturally-gifted public speaker, with the thoughts of a highly-educated philosopher and the tongue of an orator who has perfected his craft; he was success personified. He had everything going for him. An abundance of wealth, beautiful women, all that good stuff and more all by his side, and yet he was alone.
Whilst others saw perfection, he saw an incomplete being. They failed to hear his eyes screaming for love. They failed to see the child within him crying out for help. They failed to see the man within crumbling under the pressure of upholding the image they had created of him.
“I’m scared about opening up and letting the world know my weakness … I can’t have people think I’m weak. I can’t have people see me differently…” he told me as we spoke in a small classroom, sat on desks with our backs against the wall.
Silent but solemn, the atmosphere in the air was one of uncomfortable reverence and confusing awe. My perception of him was slowly changing in the minutes that passed by. Vulnerable, but still yet strong, I wondered why he was afraid to expose himself like this to others. But I guess that is the issue. “Expose”. It seems as though we live our lives constantly in fear, constantly in hiding, and once our inner-self emerges in front of those unfamiliar with that side of us, we feel exposed.
Why? Well it depends on the image others have created of us … of you. Picture if, like my friend, people spent hours discussing your achievements but not seek to understand who you are, what your deepest fears are, or how you feel about your life. You have become a role model against your will. You had no choice, no input, no decision… now you have to live your life a certain way, wondering when or whether you will be able to remove the crown of thorns they so proudly placed on you.
Though removing the crown may be agonising, the freedom after is oddly satisfying, yet lonesome. Our façade oddly links us together; an individual without a mask at a masquerade ball will always be alone.
We have all been, to an extent, forced to wear a crown of thorns we don’t want, picking up a cross that does not belong to us.
But who is at fault? Are the others at fault for not taking time to understand you? Or are you at fault for not being true to yourself and others from the get-go?
We are products of our environment, our up-bringing, and our own thoughts. We are unable to truly analyse someone if we do not yet know who we are. Living in a world of perceptions, deception and what I call “a lack of appreciation” is very detrimental to our mental health.
We perceive life through a biased lens. We deceive ourselves and others into believing we are someone who we are not. We fail to appreciate those around us and the knowledge they may provide if we only took time to get to know them.
I have a tendency to stare into people’s souls … well that’s what my friends say I do. I prefer calling it “critical observation and analysis without engaging in a conversation”. But anyway, I have a tendency to stare into people’s souls. I’m not really searching for anything specific; I simply find it interesting – more like a way to pass time – to see beneath the surface. Many of us do it. Or I should say, many of us attempt to do it, but we fail to truly analyse someone well and in the process crown them with our misjudgement.
So I ask you: when was the last time you truly got to know someone? How well do you know your friends – their deepest fears, their dreams and their wishes?
And how many of us truly know ourselves, or are we constantly deceiving ourselves? I was lost for a very long time, roaming round restlessly. I lived the quote “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”; which is all fine and dandy, but I was never true to myself. I still haven’t found myself. And I don’t believe in “finding” myself. Each day I can reinvent myself to be anyone I want to be, and that’s just what I will do. But those of you who believe in that and are continuing to find yourself, spend more time asking yourself questions, finding out what your core principles are.
I try to follow what I call “6 degrees of why”. For each action you take, ask yourself why, and once you have answered why, ask yourself why again. If we all took time doing this when talking to ourselves (don’t worry, you’re not crazy for doing so), and when talking to friends, we would learn so much more about one another.