I always assumed I was me. You know, my thoughts, my decisions, my actions. They belong to a self, a center, a person, that I have secretly known from my first breath on this earth. The me I would comfort in the middle of the night when I was scared of the invisible snakes under my bed. The me I would silently scold when I again said too much out loud. The me that craved challenge and conversation that formed who I would become.
The me of my youth loved to write. Spelling out the insides onto loose leaf paper. Stories and words, mostly incomplete. Because it was me, a story unfinished growing and losing, learning and building. Sentences that spoke what I could hope. And freely me, because these words for most of my life have remained unread.
But then, a couple of years ago, I let someone read my words. Actually, I let you read what I had to say. What what once the words within me, a thought that reflected my story of dreams and fears, flashed out uncontrollably on screens to people I may never meet face-to-face. I felt sick to my stomach hitting that send button, submitting a mere 500 words for publication. And why was I so scared to send out my words? Because I assumed I was delivering my deep self to you.
My words tangle with emotions each time I fight to say something. The me that would dare speak to a you I didn’t really know. Timid or bold, depending on the day, revealing my understandings and laments as honestly as I can. I get too caught up sometimes, that’s for sure. In the past, I have avoided reading the comments for fear that I was wrong, that I have been misguided. Assuming you thought of my words as much as I did. Assuming you were receiving the passionate center of me.
But very recently, I stumbled across an understanding of the self, of the me, of the you. That perhaps there are no new ideas. That perhaps there is no center of only me. That perhaps I am a lego castle of other stories, old philosophies, grandma’s words, and socioeconomic status. That perhaps, each word I have written can be ascribed to an external influence on my being. That perhaps, my words are deconstructed, already. That perhaps, you, my dear reader, understand me very differently in this day and age, very differently than I have understood myself.
So, I re-read the comments you left for me. It is very possible that you understand me in pieces. In our social media society, we have to cope with the mass amounts of information that passes through our eyeballs. Filtering, categorizing, religion, party, gender, friendships, they say this because… Not that what is said isn’t interesting or valuable, but how we might receive the words given to us makes an incredible difference.
I rethought everything about our words, everything about me, everything about you. When I was bearing my intimate thoughts, you may have decided that you’ve heard this before. When I struggled for the word that made my guts hurt, you may have dismissed it for a category standard. But here is the strange thing. I was not being naive, thinking too much of myself. You were not being unkind, hanging my words in the closet next to the others. We have really just valued these words differently. When I write the words of an all encompassing me, you may read them as my incohesive accidents.
And the comedy is that words are not as powerful in pieces. I find it embarrassingly funny, and a little freeing, I will admit. To flirt with the idea that you never understood how much of me I’ve tried to show you. To imagine that you pigeon-holed my inner-world, my me, before it ever got too serious. To realize that we may speak the same language, but between the two of us, may miscommunicate its meaning. All because we were not equally invested in what these words should do.
And the tragedy is that we are not equally invested in what these words should do. Is one even able to speak and convey an intended meaning, from a person that is trying to say something? Is one able to hear or read without dissecting this person into preconceived pieces? Should I write yet another word to fall upon the checkboxes? Will you keep our words so far away from touching the center of you?