Birthdays are notorious for instigating self-reflection, and here on my 26th anniversary of birth the conclusion that I’ve come to is that people see me very differently than I see myself.
This revelation started last week when a friend of mine described some of my actions (and the resulting reactions) at work a few years ago.
It was in that particular moment that a schism began to form in my mind. I remembered the situation and my reaction to it, and I remembered why my reaction was what it was. To me it wasn’t anything outside of the realm of calm, collected, and assertive. Particularly I remember being baffled that everyone around me was getting so upset at my reaction because to me, the reaction I made was almost nothing.
The story I was told by my friend was much different. The woman on the other end of it (me) was creating a huge scene and unnerving everyone around her. The conversations the managers had was almost in the realm of fear.
The point of the story was that my friend suggested that everyone wait 30 minutes or an hour and then try talking to me over again. Her hunch was that I had bipolar disorder and, like someone close to her, after 30 minutes my mood would be completely different from the initial confrontation.
As you can imagine, this story unnerved me a little. I know I was having trouble with manic symptoms around that time, but I had convinced myself that I had everything under control and nobody would notice. The reality I faced when I heard that story last week is that people definitely noticed.
With this story very fresh in mind I made a comment to another friend two days ago (a little jokingly) that the upper classmen from high school probably don’t remember me because I didn’t do anything too crazy until junior or senior year.
The response? Incredulousness.
I’ve definitely begun to surmise that my perception of my actions is extremely far removed from the perceptions of others.
Honestly, in the later part of high school I decided I wasn’t going to care anymore what everyone thought of me, so ever since I haven’t given it much thought (with the exception of my minuscule dating record).
You think I’m crazy? So what? It’s true.
And to me “crazy” has no reflection on mental illness, simply a statement of wildness, boldness, or colorfulness. I guess this is more in the realm of what I see.
If you were to say, though, that “crazy” is reflecting unusual, immediate, and sometimes irrational behavior -then yes, I am probably that brand of crazy too. And apparently this is what most others see.
After these two situations I had my first day of the new job. After talking with my boss about my experiences with architecture school, in fashion design, costuming, interior design, and more she told me that I’ve done an incredible amount of things for being only 26.
This response was as foreign to me as hearing that people were terrified of me.
I don’t expect people to consider me to be a remarkable person, but I guess some do. In the same vein, I don’t expect people to consider me irrational, but I guess some do.
So I throw my hands in the air and I can fully admit that I have no idea how others will perceive me in any given situation. I’m somewhere beyond the teenage notion of not caring what people think, but only to the point where I don’t want people to be living in fear or me for any reason.
It is true that I might be friendly one minute and incredibly cold the next, but that is just the nature of the hand I’ve been dealt. When it happens I would say that 90% of the time it’s a total fluke and hasn’t been caused by the person on the receiving end.
The same phenomenon usually happens minutes after an argument, only my mood tends to lift to a place where I forget tension even occurred.
If I am bossy it is because I have anxiety, and the words flying out of my mouth are only trying to alleviate it.
I realize that I am not a very consistent friend, but the rapidity in the change of my emotions only encourages forgiveness and loyalty from my end in my relationships.
It means a lot to me to have a group of friends who are so stellar at putting up with my particular brand of crazy, thanks folks!