One Big Boat

by Natalie Robin

Ever since I heard someone say it years ago, I think all the time: it is impossible to see yourself how others see you.

I am overwhelmed in a warm way not only by the fact that we are so multifaceted, able to think about our surroundings and arrange our relationship to them accordingly, but also that to everyone who experiences you, you will be experienced differently. While obviously we are all curious at times to know how exactly people see us, I think the not-being-able-to-truly-know is a great feature of the limitations in cognition. If we knew what people saw in their mind’s eye when they see us walk by or laugh or talk or scratch our head or sing, whatever it is, we’d have no interest in discovering what or why someone loves us, or even why they hate us, and therefore perhaps less interested in self-discovery. The mystery leads to our having to learn the multiple selves that comprise us in these interactions and then pull them off the hanger appropriately in dealing with others. We become richer, deeper, and more interesting in having to decipher how to engage well with a variety of people.

I think I’m going to try and start being more conscious of the fact that when dealing with others, they are as much trying to figure themselves out as they are trying to figure out me, as I am at the same time trying to figure out myself in order to best deal with them. So much processing! Maybe in remembering that, we can all feel a little less self-conscious and a little more comfortable with the fact that despite our boundless differences, we are all trying to figure it out in the same, massive boat with each other.