to really know someone

So I started this blog almost eight months ago, and to me, that seems pretty crazy. Even though I wrote for The Odyssey Online for a few months before launching my own site, the writing I have done on this blog is more personal. And especially in these past couple of months, as people have continued to read the blog and learn a little bit more about me, I have faced numerous questions about privacy.

How does it feel knowing everyone knows everything about you? 

I’ve been asked that question, in various forms, many times over the past few months. And I understand where people are coming from. While I have posted some more carefree posts, a good portion of this blog is dedicated to mental health and my own struggle with self-harm. There’s some heavy stuff on this blog and so I get it. What used to be my biggest secret is now out there for anyone with a screen to see and judge and so once you know that, you know it all. Right?

I kinda don’t think so.

We cannot be simply boiled down into a couple of sentences or have our most personal experiences fully explained in a couple of blog posts. It is an entirely different thing to know about someone than it is to know someone. You can know everything about me – be able to recall my favorite everything or retell my most embarrassing memories. And maybe, if you’ve read the post, you know about my history with self-harm. That doesn’t mean you really know me. You know about me. You know what I want you to know – what I let you know.

Whether we want to admit to it or not, we all choose what we want to share with other people – we craft our image. I want to be clear that while this post was born out of the questions I’ve received, it is also about the overall tendency to feel as if we know everything about the lives of everyone we follow on Instagram, or everyone who we are friends with on Snapchat. We all post what we feel like is worthy for other people to see. And sometimes that means leaving out parts of our stories that aren’t as glamorous – and a lot of times the not-so-glamorous stuff is also the hard stuff, the personal stuff, the stuff that allows people to really know us. So we end up knowing a lot about people. But until we start to sit with people and listen to their stories we don’t really know them. We need to not only laugh with people and smile with people but also meet people in their questions, in their uncertainty, and in their pain to really get them.

It’s an investment. It’s a choice we have to make. A conscious acknowledgment that behind the words and pictures and videos that people share are emotions and experiences. That shouldn’t intimidate us. It should be an exciting invitation to start a conversation.

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