I am a terrible judge of character. I could tell you the secret ingredients in your special pancake recipe just by tasting them. But when it comes to knowing what’s in someone’s psyche…well that’s a gift I don’t have.
Sometimes I wish people came with warning signs. I don’t mean something simple like “Beware of Bitch” or “Caution: Premature Ejaculator.” So maybe not a warning label, then. What we all really need is a personalized table of contents, a guide to our emotional proclivities. It would make things easier; at least, it would make things easier on me.
CHAPTER 1: FEAR OF BEING MISUNDERSTOOD
I’m not just referring to romantic relationships, although knowing someone is “passive/aggressive with co-dependent tendencies” would’ve certainly come in handy….on several occasions. But all everyday interactions would be more fulfilling if we could know something about what lurks beneath the surface of others. I am not claiming to be normal, nor is this a post about relationship complaints. I’m sure my own table of contents would have chapters called “Co-Dependent Tendencies,” “Prone to Emotional Detachment,” and a subheading, “With Trust Issues.” Wouldn’t an index of my issues help someone come to know me, and therefore better relate to me?
CHAPTER 2: I DON’T TRUST YOU,BECAUSE I DON’T TRUST MYSELF
Instead of trying to show each other who we are,we spend so much of our time and energy putting on the fake plastic smile, attempting to put our best foot forward, and trying to make a great first impression. It is exhausting. But the general rules of polite society dictate that we have to try get to know someone, to see through the Kabuki make-up, and hope they’ll reciprocate by attempting to get past ours. There’s an unspoken agreement that if I share my hidden parts, you’ll show me yours. Maybe that’s what trust is—an agreement that if you scream all of my dirty little secrets I have shared with you at the top of your lungs, then I can do the same, so in each others best interest we keep our mouths shut- like a mutual extortion of sorts.
CHAPTER 3: I CONTAIN NO CONFIDENCE
Fake smiles are not the only false advertising we use. We have made up lines and catch phrases to express ourselves. The last time someone asked you “How are you today?” did you tell the truth? I know I didn’t. I probably said “I am right as rain, how are you?”. I never expect an honest answer in return. I expect some sort of happy, happy joy, joy response. The fear of being rejected keeps our mouths shut. We still get rejected but when it isn’t the REAL you being rejected it is less bothersome.
CHAPTER 4: I DON’T REGRET ANYTHING I HAVE SAID, BUT THE REGRETS I HAVE ABOUT WHAT I DIDN’T SAY COULD FILL VOLUMES
Maybe all that honesty would send the world spinning out of control; the poles would shift and we would begin a free fall towards the Sun, all because we allowed each other to see the director’s cut. So just in case some stranger on the subway walks up to you and begins to expound on all their fears and weaknesses, I think you should give them the benefit of the doubt. Unless they say “Hey just to be upfront, I have a tendency to become obsessed to the point of stalking people.” Then I would suggest you get your pepper spray handy as you tell them, ” What a coincidence! Me too! As a matter of fact, this isn’t even my train. I just saw you and had the urge to follow you around until I got bored.” Either you’ll have found yourself a soul mate or assault charges, and in both cases someone will most likely be in tears. But I think it’s worth a shot. So if you try this approach, please comment and let me know how it went.