Can you know someone by only observing their behaviour? Can you know how they go through life, by only seeing what they do throughout the day? Can you extract from their behaviour how confident they are, if they are introverted or extraverted, can you extract from their behaviour what they have encountered in life in terms of situations, wins and losses? I do not believe we can. However, I do believe we are convinced that our judgements of someone are true, because they feel true.
But judging people by the story they are willing to let you believe about them or by the story they unknowingly spread about themselves can be a dangerous thing. That quiet girl over there? She might be a public speaker like you will never hear! This confident guy over here? He might worry about meeting new people. That loud, happy-go-lucky person in the corner? He might cry himself to sleep at night. This girl who cannot seem to get her thoughts across in conversation? She will be a stunning author! Or that girl over there, who laughs so much and makes everybody smile, she might feel infinitely sad on the inside. We do not know that. We do not know their story by looking at their lives or by looking at their behaviour. Chances are that at least once in our lives we have seriously underestimated what someones real life actually looks like.
Maybe our underestimation was benign and did it not really matter to that person. Maybe it was exactly what they needed, because sometimes we just want to hide for a bit. Or maybe our underestimation actually left a very lonely human being behind, who just wanted to be seen but did not know how to show him- or herself. This is not our responsibility, for I believe no one can ever be responsible for someone elses needs being met except for our own needs. And still, the thought of people feeling unseen and unheard is heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking and I think we all know how it feels when you desperately want to be seen in all your glory and all your pain, but you do not know how to show yourself. It feels lonely. It feels like we are wearing a invisibility cloak, a cloak that projects happiness and a general sense of ‘I am okay’ to the outside world, while hiding how we feel underneath it. Sometimes the cloak also projects us as smaller than we are, like someone who could blend in with the wallpaper, while hiding our strength and our power.
And we will try and we will fight the throw that cloak off, but it is heavy and sometimes we cannot do the lifting alone. Sometimes we just wish that someone would come over, take a corner of the cloak in hand and help us pull it off. A lot of people would be willing to help you pull your cloak off , if only they could see you were wearing one. I think a lot of us would want to help others pull their cloaks off, if only we could see theirs. But it is hard, because the projection the cloak spreads is so believable and rings so true with us, that we cannot see past it.
We need someone to point at their own cloak and say: ‘There it is, now please help me pull’. But how do you point to your own cloak, when you do not have the words for it or when you do not know how to lift just a tip of it because people seem to want to believe the projection? How do we show the cloak that is hiding our person, when for others that cloak is our person? It is a situation that almost seems impossible to get out off and I am actually not sure if we can. However, somewhere deep down I feel that to get rid of our own cloak (if we wish to do so), we might need to start seeing other people’s cloaks. For when we show them that we can see who they truly are and what they truly feel and need, they will feel how great that is and they will want to return that favour to us. When we can really see them, they will also want to truly see us.
And how do we see the cloak someone is wearing when we have started to believe that cloak is them? I am not sure actually. I know for me it is really hard to see people’s cloaks. I often notice myself judging who someone is and what their life is like, only to find out I was completely wrong and have not done right by them. However, I also know I am more capable of spotting the cloak, when I know there is a cloak to be spotted. When I know someone will sometimes present themselves differently than how they feel, I can more easily see when it happens. So maybe that is what I need to do more often, to be aware that a lot of people might be, knowingly or unknowingly, wearing a cloak. And when I realize that, and always keep that thought in mind, I might notice a cloak a bit easier and a bit faster. So that is what I will try to do; to not judge anyone by their behaviour or by what I think their life has been like. I will try to approach everyone with an open mind, clear eyes and a free heart. I will try to see you. I will always try to see you.