Who are we really? This is something I ask myself constantly. I have already written about our many sides, see my post here. So, to not repeat myself, I was thinking more along the lines of our inner voices. Perhaps it is just me and I need to see someone about it, but we have different voices that guide us to make our decisions.
Think of them as the little angel or devil on our shoulders. For me, suffering from anxiety and depression, I could be having a great day one moment and the next a small voice or stray thought comes in saying something horrible. Perhaps a conversation I had earlier in the day. It plays like a recording being reviewed for editing. Certain parts are highlighted as being not good enough. I start to wonder if what I said was understood or said the way it should have been.
Then after all the editing, I run circumstances. If the scene was played differently and I didn’t fiddle with my earring so much or fidget from one foot to the other. Would this make it better? I have played thousands of scenarios in my head. Some dating back to first grade. Maybe if I had stood up for myself or just said nothing. What would have changed? What would the ripple effect look like? How different would I be?
Just to make this more interesting, and perhaps a bit funny, I will give you some personal examples. Picture an old classroom, with tiled floors, pale green walls, and rock-hard chairs pulled up to a desk with a lift lid. Kids filled the room, no more than 25, all uniformly dressed. Science was on the docket for that time of day. A tall rather stern-looking woman stood at the front of the room.
“The metric system. It is about time we switch over and let me show you how easy it is.” She goes into a spiel on how to change years of built-in measuring to a new way of doing things. She turns and sees everyone’s puzzled looks. “Why does everyone look like I’m speaking another language?” Now, in my mind, the logical conclusion to that question was because she was speaking another language. The metric system was used in other countries, therefore, different languages. My mistake was to laugh and turn to my friend saying out loud, “Well, maybe because she is.”
Laser-focused eyes and a witch’s finger extended in my direction. She loudly asked, “What did you just say?” I made some weak counter in my case that the metric system was indeed another language. Regardless of what I had to say, she, for some unknown reason to me, had a vendetta. This was not the only time she called me out in front of the class. She would find anything to make me look stupid. In this case, however, I did open my mouth and I can only blame myself for it. Mind you, I had never gotten in trouble before. So, this was a rarity. The whole class turned and looked at me, which looked in my memory like an overdramatized cartoon scene. She told me to get up and move my seat. I had to walk from the back to the front and the other side of the room. A walk of shame perhaps, a way to make me feel beneath her? I am not sure.
One more example. In sixth grade, we had to do oral presentations on our book reports. This one was for a biography of our choosing. I chose one on Paul Simon. Simon and Garfunkel were high on my music list at the time. Plus, Paul Simon was and is my favorite songwriter. I even brought a VHS to show the class. Bringing out those wonderful, wheeled TV carts that only came out when we had movie time. Or sleep time, whichever.
I hated standing up and talking in front of anyone, let alone the very classmates that made my life hell. It was like shining a spotlight on me for them to further scrutinize. Somehow, I made it through without dying. However, one classmate asked me a question, “What is your favorite song on the Graceland album?” In my fluster, I could not for the life of me remember a single song on that album. The album I had listened to backward and forwards, knew every line to every song, it was like I had never heard of it before in my life. My mind frantically searched for an answer. I responded, “Graceland”. It was not my favorite song. My favorite song was All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints. It has bothered me ever since.
So, again I ask, who are we? The person we put forward in either fear or pride? Or one of the many voices that talk at the moment those decisions or actions are made? Something to ponder I suppose. I know I have most of my life.