Sunday, October 29, 2017

Someone I suspect we all know

Every so often there will be a friend or acquaintance in my life whose personality and interactions are very puzzling. There are others....and count yourself lucky if you have friends like this, that even after years of little contact, when you get together again, it is as if no time has passed. But the first type of "friend"....I am not sure this type of person is really capable of true friendship ...possibly but I just do not know. Everyone knows people like this. I started thinking about this because almost every time I encounter this person, I come away from her feeling unsettled. And much as this happens in families, especially newly married couples, the first time I realized that my husband acted differently with my family, and I acted different within mine. Over time, I worked hard to be the same person in both families. But that is what this person does. One on one with me she is fine. But in groups she acts differently depending on the group.

The person of whom I'm thinking is so focused on fitting in that she never or almost never reveals her true personality. What is important to her is being "in" with the group. It can be annoying because this kind of person often talks a great deal and has long detailed anecdotes to capture and hold an audience, but at some point, you ask yourself, "what is going on here?" I finally recognized that this person would act one way with me in one set of people and quite differently in another set. Asking myself why? I finally figured out that she considered me an asset in one group and either neutral or a detriment in another. I tend to be more outspoken and I do try to be honest, nicely honest, but I try to be truthful. Plus I tend to ask deep, difficult questions. Not everyone wants to consider those. As a child my mother (who was a wonderful, gentle loving person was also one who did not want to make waves and who knew and wanted to fit in)...would often try to get me to stop asking those questions.
But I digress.

I am really not certain that friendship can take place without some basic underpinning of honesty. Honesty in the sense that we allow our true selves to be revealed. Not completely, not all the time. There can be situations where discretion is important. But trust is a key part of friendship and I think that trusting one's friend enough to reveal one's true self is essential.

I suspect that underneath all of this is a deep desire to be accepted and loved. I get that. But I think pulling clouds of fog over to hide one's true personality makes it difficult for people to know the other. It is our own uniqueness that we offer to the world.

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