You are the only one who will truly ever know, you… This can free you from that deep human urge to be saved. Finally seen, finally comforted, by some mythical “other”, a partner or social group, who is perfect and sees you, and accepts you perfectly. How wonderful though, to realize this mythical other is actually… you!
– Everyone is Alone (It’s OK!)
When I read that the other day, it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I keep going back to it over and over. It’s a point you’ve made across several posts and essays, and is essential in better understanding us, but the way it is worded wiped me. We really do long for some unexplainable force, whether manifested in a person or group, to untangle that web of often-confusing half-conclusions we arrive at about ourselves. The most social creature in the animal kingdom can find all they need within themselves. It’s ironic, it’s poetic, and it’s an important reminder. On a personal level, I’ve found myself in many situations where I’ve damn-near forgotten myself for the sake of blending in. My self-monitor readings would be through the roof if they were properly measured, I’m sure.
Although, the man I am today compared to the man I was even a year ago are two different individuals. On the approach of social behavior and finding your “in-group,” I’ve seen my perspective gradually shift as a result of both purposeful agency and the organic flow of day-to-day maturation. One entered chameleon mode almost every social interaction, constantly adjusting behavior to most naturally fit in. The other still has that initial response, but the awareness of it at the very least helps me recenter.
I see that my specific experience with this is not wildly unique, as we all tend to arrive at some inclination of similar nature, at some junction of our lives. Though, the conditions and circumstances under which we fully recognize it, is.
I suppose now I’ve begun self-monitoring my self-monitoring, to make sure I don’t self-monitor so much to the point of sacrificing authenticity. Which is a quite simple yet ridiculous sentiment, but my truth nonetheless.
The question I ask myself at this stage is, well what was my motivation to enable that chameleon effect in the first place? Was it a defense against appearing too dissimilar.. or matching the surface-attitudes and dispositions to allow those around me to feel more comfortable? I doubt the latter, and I don’t fully accept the prior. It’s never a this or that, one or the other, line-in-the-sand distinction. I see now that most truths are found somewhere in that sea of gray in-betweens. But, that’s what I love about introspection— its deep-sea fishing for the blueprints that built us.
I think the overarching point I am attempting to articulate is that A) absolutely love that quote, and B) What I derived from it was that, in order to know yourself more genuinely, we need not venture out for external validation. Whatever it is we receive from it, it can never be fully accurate.
The journey continues! Hope you are well.
Luke – once again – incredible thoughts. Only a matter of time before I publish more of these excerpts with credit to you. Maybe this evolves into an ongoing discussion at some point. I will be back soon with a fuller digestion of your thoughts.
Bottom line – certain insights were incredibly powerful to me in my journey – and the fact that they might accelerate or help someone’s wellbeing is absolutely my ultimate aspiration.