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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Do you know me?

There have been times when my friends have told me about a startling duality that they perceive in my behaviour. It's not just being moody and lashing out every now and then, that would be mostly "normal" behaviour. Apparently, and they've even coined a term for it, it's a far more sinister turn in character. The story that you and I know is titled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My friends simply call it "the evil side".

I've had to deal with this sort of comment a lot in the past. Mostly, from people who I've considered myself close to. There have even been former girlfriends who've said things like, "You aren't Rohin," with a vigorous shaking of the head, or the more shriekingly dramatic "What have you done with my boyfriend?!?!?" Sure it's very just-like-my-favorite-show-on-TV at times with the whole element of someone not quite being themselves, or otherwise under the influence of something sinister, only to wake up from it at the end of the episode and go, "Wha...what just happened?" and return to a state of normalcy to some enlightening background music. But, the funny thing is the fact that -- obvious though it may be -- I don't agree with this idea.

For the longest time I've thought about how I am perceived by others. This is also a feature of those afflicted with poor self-esteem, when taken to a bit of an extreme, but I've often tried to think about what others will think when I say something or how they will react. For me, this helps me anticipate the course of conversation and the overall situation in which it takes place. This anticipation gives me a sense of comfort; certain knowledge or something very close to it is a very powerful feeling. Therefore, the point is that I make more than a human effort to present myself and to maintain this presentation in a manner that I think will result in the most pleasant situation for all. It's not that I anticipate a large degree of unpleasantness in general, but it's been my experience that there are times when what's been said has been misunderstood as something inflammatory. So, I like to watch myself just a little. Therefore, I seem to think that the people who see me behave in a manner that is anything other than like this are shocked into a perceived sense of Jekyll-and-Hyde.

For those of you who read that last paragraph and went, "Hey. Wait just a minute," you're right. If it does sound like a bit of an act, that's exactly what it's like. Don't gasp in horror, this is what a lot of people I know do too. That's not an excuse and I'm not trying to make one either. All I'm saying is, it's perfectly normal to play more than one version of yourself in your everyday existence. So, before you can really say you know someone, you have to get to know someone. In my case, you may have to accept that I'm not always the nice guy that you seem to know. Notice I said "seem to know". Think of me as being a little bit like a gremlin; cute and cuddly until I come into contact with something that makes me go apeshit. And the thing is, it's alright. For the longest time I convinced myself that being this way was wrong. Now I realize that I was wrong to force this opinion -- this one-true-way-of-being notion -- onto myself.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I think of all the different ways of being that the different people in my life are familiar with. I wonder about how many of them know all the different "sides" of the person that I am. I don't think any of them have a complete idea. Then again, looking at myself in the mirror, I begin to wonder how much I really know myself.

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