Friday, July 06, 2007

on the outside...



you know
how you feel
when you
are in
a foreign land
and
you don't or barely
speak the language?
how you feel
like you are
watching a movie
and not really
participating
in the action
around you?

lately that's
how i have been
feeling.

sometimes
i feel like
i am so far
away
from the
conversation
around me...

sometimes
i feel like
i am trying
to tell people
something
but because
i don't speak
the language,
they have
no idea
what i am
trying to say.

it all started
a few weeks ago
when
my friend told me
that she doesn't
see me as the type
of person
to have kids.
this was so strange
to me because
i have always
in the back
of my mind
assumed
that i would
have kids...

the past
few weeks
people have
said a lot of
things to me
that
were like that
comment...
and i thought,
how do
people see me...
has that changed
as i get older?

i know
this isn't
a new question
but as my birthday
came and past
it brought about
{as it usually tends to}
that introspective time.
and it made me think
about when my mother
told me that
she doesn't
see herself
as a 70 year old
woman
but rather as
someone my age
and it startles
her sometimes
when she sees
this old lady
looking back it her.

i feel like
i know who
i am
but it is
the sum of
all the parts
of me growing up
and
some parts
of me
may not
be so obvious
to those
who see me now.

are we who
we think
we are
or
how we are
perceived?

or rather...
do people
see me better
than i see
myself?
for example,
when you
know that
your friend's
boyfriend sucks
but it takes
your friend
years in
a relationship
to figure that out...

how different
is
how
we perceive
ourselves
from
how others
perceive us?
are some people
exactly as others
perceive them to be
while others
are the
polar opposite?

i love looking
into people's
windows
as i walk home
at night...
i love seeing
how they
decorate their homes
and
how they move about
their lives
oblivious
to mine...

as i am
on the outside
looking
in.

19 comments:

eshu said...

i feel like i could have written that post...

although i couldn't have... the words would never come to me as they did you...

but i feel you and understand every word

and i'm ashamed to say, i don't think i wished you a happy birthday...

happy (belated) birthday!

shari said...

gosh, these are big questions. questions i've been thinking about too. so interesting...birthdays force these questions to the surface i think. hope you are having a good week my friend and eating lots of local yumminess. xoxo

Carson said...

Like you I find myself compelled to look in lighted windows at night, even though I'm a privacy freak
and I'm so glad your mother said that: In my mind I think about 32 and so I'm often shocked to see someone much older looking back from the mirror!

UNIFORM Studio said...

my dad says he always thinks of himself as twelve. I wonder if everyone has a different "stopping" age?
I often have that same feeling that there is a conversation going on around me -and I just don't get/hear it. I think all that matters is that you like how you perceive yourself:)
Happy belated birthday!

suzanne said...

GOSH....this is such a great post. Such good questions. Thank you for sharing this. You made me stop and think...and that can never be a bad thing. I want to say, to hope, that we see ourselves in the truest light.

leslie said...

beautiful - you've put my thoughts into words in a way i wouldn't have been able to.

cruststation said...

I love your thoughts on this subject gwen. So many familiar sentiments, but to see it written down helps bring everything into a clearer tangible perspective. Thank you for this wonderful thought-provoking post.

hannah said...

i agree with martha, that how you see yourself and express that is the most important. sometimes i feel like i have so many layers and that over time different sides of me will become more prominent than others. this is good food for thought.

Miss T said...

Yes yes yes, me too!

shash said...

VERY familiar indeed. how to express/communicate who one is/how one feels. a frustrating (and seemingly lifelong!) endeavor.
i hear ya!

mazhalai said...

i have been a lurker for more than a year i think.

i just wanted to say thanks for this post and give you {hugs}

ms. pea said...

Hm... in your case, I'm pretty sure that you know yourself awfully well. But sometimes you think that what you know about yourself *looks* just terrible to those looking on, when actually to us it looks pretty damned fine. It's all perception, right? Of course, some people are a lot more perceptive than others. Now I want to go peer into people's windows...

Alicia A. said...

I understand too. Sometimes things don't turn out like you plan or expect, and sometimes they do. Either way, it is certainly a journey, isn't it?

Take care, friend.

Kristy said...

Only you know who you really are.If people perceive you differently then maybe that's just the way they interpret you.It's like when we read a book.The same words are read and inspire everybody differently.
If you are anything like me you will be far more tolerant of your own faults in others than in yourself.Even when your friends boyfriend sucks you still know they need to find out for themselves.
Sometimes it's good to be in a place where we feel out of place.It stretches us and brings us out of comfort zones.I think everybody talks a variation of the same language just some people think more deeply than others.Some people are happy to just see the surface where others dig much deeper.
Well that turned into a much longer comment than I intended. I just wanted to say yes I get how you feel!

amisha said...

you write about these things so beautifully, gwen. these are things i think about a lot... the way we are seen v. what we think of ourselves... i know that sometimes i feel that the way i am perceived is completely contrary to how i see myself, but sometimes i am startled by an insight from a friend or from e about me... their vocalization makes me realize something about myself that i wasn't conscious of but was there all along.
xo

gracia said...

I know that feeling all to well... and always, always around the time of birthdays. They always seem to make me even more inwardly turned... questioning how others see me... and whether or not I am steering m little tug boat the right way. Hmmm...

Sending much belated Birthday cheer your way, Gwen.

take care, g xo

sooz said...

Here is something I had to do once for a film school assignment that really shifted my thinking on this self-perception thing.

Set up a video camera on a tripod in the corner of the room and turn it on. Try to forget it is there and then go about your regular business.

Sit down and watch the tape from beginning to end. Alone.

It is surprising how powerful this little thing is, how much more intense it is than the experience of looking at a photo of yourself and saying - do I really look like that??

And of course it is only the outside, but this is all that other people see. And we're all like Dr Who's Tardis, so much bigger, so much more complex on the inside, but the outside is the only reality we share with the world. It's not more or less, just a different kind of knowing.

I find it helps to get to know both selves.

lyssa said...

de-lurker here.
happy birthday!

i've often thought of this, and, in fact after i had an interesting and difficult experience at my (last) job that had a lot to do with perceptions over reality, i made myself a little sign & put it on the top of my monitor:
"perception ~is~ reality"

meaning, your perception is your reality, and my perception is mine. but that -in essense- means that the world is what you make it, and there are as many worlds as there are people.

i've definitely struggled with this. and have contemplated significantly.

good luck with your work as well. :)

marsha said...

what a WONDERFUL post! thank you for sharing these questions and thoughts - i feel like this so often, but have never verbalized it to anyone.