“But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”
— Bette Middler as CC Bloom in Beaches, 1988.
As bloggers, we’re constantly defining ourselves to our readers. Through our photos, our stories, our poetry, our recipes, or our podcasts, we tell the world who we are. Even those of us who share a great deal of our personal lives still only give snippets of ourselves. We create a public persona (even our choices of blog themes reflect the way we want to represent ourselves online). We choose what we want to share of ourselves, and our readers fill in the rest according to their own points of view. Every reader might have a slightly different idea of who you truly are.
I’ve been thinking about how this applies to my daily life. I have an unconscious habit of creating stories about people I see, but whom I only know in “snippets.” The barista at my local coffee shop, the surly bus driver who never smiles at me no matter how much I try, the harried doctor’s assistant who has the most ornate manicure I’ve ever seen. Without realizing I’ve done it, I’ve developed backstories for them all:
- The barista always has a bright smile on her face, and she seems to know all the words to all the songs played in the cafe. I think she’s newly in love and she can barely keep her feet on the ground in her euphoria.
- The bus driver always looks grim, his uniform is disheveled, and he always has 5 o’clock shadow at 8 a.m. I feel like he’s been kicked out of his house. He’s sleeping on a buddy’s couch, and he misses his kids…he emits an aura of loneliness.
- The doctor’s assistant has a hard time taking my blood pressure because of her nails. Her scrubs are unlike any other employee’s in the office — patterned, and bright. She wears gold and white bedazzled sneakers. I’ve decided she is practicing her act for America’s Got Talent. She cannot wait to bust out of her day job and be a star.
Without consciously choosing to do so, I’ve built backstories for all them based on observation, assumption, and projection. While the stories ring true to me, I could be completely off-base. The bus driver might just be a surly dude who hates to shave, for instance.
This has me wondering — who am I through their eyes?
They only see bits and pieces of me: I carry an extra large travel mug of tea wherever I go, I’m always plugged in to my iPod. I listen to comedy podcasts which make me shriek with laughter…of course, nobody else knows what I’m laughing at, so I might look unhinged. I seem to have accumulated a lot of T-shirts that display cats wearing glasses, and I don them for my walks. I stop and take pictures of things and people that I find amusing. The music at Trader Joe’s makes me dance in the aisles…much to the chagrin of my husband.
What is my backstory in the mind of the cashier at TJs? Does he wonder how much baby zucchini a human can consume during the week? (Answer: A LOT.) Does he know I have a tendency to hide behind my sunglasses indoors because a) they’re prescription and I usually forget my regular glasses, and b) I’m pretty shy. Or…does he think I’m aloof, and trying to give off a cool vibe?
Have you ever tried to tell your story through another’s Point of View?
How do your kids see you as you try to rush them off for school? What does the pharmacist think when you try to convince him that you lost your newly refilled prescription for painkillers and need another? How about your speed “dates” who have noticed you sweat more and more every time the bell rings? Who are you to outsiders?
This might be something you can reflect on in a post…or maybe you can get creative and present yourself through writing or photography as if from another’s POV. I once had a creative writing assignment in college for which I had to write my obituary based on the view point of an editor who was only given 5 objects that represented my entire life. It was an interesting assignment that called for self-reflection, self-awareness, and at the same time, the ability to step out of my own skin and see myself from the outside.
“Be sure that whatever you are is you.”
I’m interested to see what you come up with…and to hear if it changes the way you represent yourself to your readers in the future.