Will The Real Me Please Stand Up?

Okay, I hate waiting. I hate waiting even when I know that I have to and there is no possible way the thing I’m waiting for is going to happen earlier than I want it to. Yup, the contract. And then other things too.

I’ve long contemplated how much of my life is ‘open to public’. How much can I say and share without saying and sharing too much. And on the other hand, do I really need to hide as much as I’ve believed I needed to over the years?

I realised on the Women’s Day program that the people around me tend to think I’m a very open, very public, very outspoken character. I couldn’t have been more surprised to meet myself, because I’m not!

All my life, I’ve got along with people but that’s part of my social self. I spent a large number of years with my heel protruding out of my mouth (the rest of my foot was permanently embedded within) and that made me wary of public encounters.

Do I know what to say at the right time? No. Do I know how to handle people when they’re going through grief/joy? No. (That’s why I avoid brides and the bereaved with equal passion.) Do I know how to be socially gracefully? No.

But that’s never stopped me from plodding along and barging through friendships, clumsily knocking over emotional stacks and bruising egos as I bump into them. And so far, I’ve survived. I don’t ask anyone how or why. I just accept their acceptance and think of their smiles when they see as being pleasurable ones. (Okay. I lie. But that’s what I’m working towards.)

So that’s why I can stand up to a podium and speak about anything without thinking twice, and yet freeze when one of the audience comes up to me later and asks something personal or gives me a compliment. (I’m one of those ‘no-it-really-wasn’t-anything-major’ compliment receivers. Working on that too.)

The point is, I personally feel that I have huge – I mean HUGE – problems with actually developing friendships and relationships. When I look back, the ones that have survived so far have actually been those that I was either born into, fell into or that were initiated and at first nurtured/sustained by the other party.

I simply don’t know how to get to know people. How to judge what they say, before I know them well enough to know what their smiles and eyes tell me without words. How to decide whether their funny comments are really funny or just silly. How to gauge their gentleness, friendliness, moral standards and intelligence simply from what they present to me.

I’m not a fake, but I’m so secure behind my extrovert-textured blanket of security that I’m now beginning to wonder if the people around me aren’t doing the same – putting up facades for the world to see, while hiding their true selves. That has the potential of being extremely dangerous in the relationships that really matter in life.

Bint Ali


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