I don’t like to be the thing observed, to be looked at,turned over in someone else’s mind. I know who I am, I’ve named all my qualities and categorized them as good, bad, or neutral based on my subjective experiences and ultimate aims. I am fully self-aware and completely self-defined. But when you add in other people, it starts to get messy.
They may not know what a trait of mine actually is, and can only approximate it based on the observable output. The less behavioral data they’ve compiled, the more wrong they can be about the underlying cause. And then they’ll categorize me incorrectly, too, since I’m only the sum of my parts.
Even if they have observed every one of my actions for my entire life, they may categorize many of my positive qualities as “bad.” My thoughts are not their thoughts. Same with ways. Not that I’m a god, just that different life events and values generate different behavioral strategies, and different pursuits assign value to each strategy with enormous variability. The doctor is rewarded for his brilliance with proportionate success, while the kitchen employee is punished for his with unrelenting boredom. The latter depends for his success on being timely, the former on being thorough, and even if he is not, he is punished less for his untimeliness because of his scarcity and status. And while accuracy is rewarded in both positions, its absence is more costly for the surgeon, who has more at stake than steak.
So that which is good for some may not be good for all. And that which would impede the pursuits of one may have little effect, or a positive one, on the strategy of another.
But this of course is not how people intuitively characterize each other’s behavior.
A man’s mind is the end terminal for everything in his world, including the minds of other people, which he considers by the fact of this apparent hierarchy to be inferior to himself. Thus, he is the Alpha and Omega, a default position that can only be managed and never displaced, for he considers real only that which he can experience, and he he cannot experience firsthand the consciousness of other people.
His experiences, direct or indirect, are all that he can know, and since he is the final processor of all the known data, he assumes that there is nothing knowable outside what he can know. It is inconceivable to him that he might not be capable of acquiring the wisdom needed to accurately characterize others, so he goes around waving imaginary Bibles at all who deviate from his own codes of conduct. And they’ll protest of course, but his unchangeable inclination is to regard them as less mind than himself and explain away their dissensions as the result of ignorance or evil. So for the mere fact of being unlike him, they are dehumanized. The fault of ignorance, indeed.
Back to me real quick, because this was supposed to be about me. This is the whole problem of my whole life, that I dance to my own beat. People watch me, fascinated at first, and then frustrated, cuz what fucking song is that, even?. Nothing they’ve heard, and how dare I write my own like I’m smarter than them? Turn it off and come dance to the same shit as everyone else. Then, because I deviate so markedly from the models of a distinct majority, I am derided as crazy or stupid or bad, and because we tend to dehumanize bad people, I’m stripped of my humanity and treated like shit. They’re just paying me back what I’m due.
And now we’ve reached the beginning, I don’t like to be perceived. Ironically, from this and my human tendency to conflate experience with reality comes my gracious disposition and insistence on letting people just be who they are. And like a typical little know-it-all, which we all are, I believe that makes me far better than the people who harm me for my imaginary harms.
But I started this with a different end in mind and I got myself all sidetracked. See, in order to avoid being ridiculed for my differences by the people closest to me, I often alter myself to be more like the person they want me to be. But I’m not a full self to anyone but myself, I am the only one with my best interest in mind, so this is invariably very bad.
So when I told you I don’t want to do that thing where I start to care what you think, I meant all of this.
I think I told you already about that thing my mother said: that people only like me until they get to know me. As far as I can tell, it is true. They all treat me the same at the end, and I don’t just mean men. I mean all of them.
I think about you more than I should, and I shouldn’t admit that, but hopefully you’re done lurking by now. You would have been a fun distraction, but you were asking too much. I can’t let you get close to me, I can’t let myself be known anymore. Not ever. And maybe that’s sad, I’m honestly crying a little at how absolute I feel this statement to be, but it’s the only way I’m gonna survive in this world where I’ll never fit in. It isn’t safe for me here.