I’m not who you think I am

Categories: Life, Musings
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I’ve written previously about how I try to orchestrate a lot of the assumptions people might make about me. I even did a flowchart about how I explain what it is I’m studying. That card is one of the first I play whenever I’m introducing myself to people. Because I know if they have that as a foundation, later cards will lead to different assumptions than if I played them earlier.

One card that I really hold back playing is that I’m a newlywed. If I can help it, it’s the last thing someone learns about me. The fact that I’m married is an earlier card. The fact that I’m recently married is a whole different thing.

Because what comes to mind when you think of newlyweds? I’ll give you a minute to think.

{pause for quiet thinking time}

Is the picture you came up with anything like a blubbering 20-year-old who has no grasp on reality? Someone who the Seriously, so blessed! blog is parodying? (Warning: Only read that blog if you are prepared to poke your eye out with a fork) That’s the stereotype. It’s a strong stereotype. And it’s the reason I don’t tell people I’m a newlywed.

The stereotype says newlyweds are too optimistic, annoyingly so even. They, by the fact that they’re just married, have not experienced any trials in life that would help them understand the real world. I recently heard a woman say that unless you’ve been up and sleep deprived with a baby then you cannot know what life is about. After giving her the stink eye and thinking through all the trials I’ve had in my life that have taught me so much and didn’t involve a baby, trials that she will never have by the simple fact that her life and mine are different (and yet I might have those up late with the baby trials eventually too, so I’ll have more trials than her!), I realized that was pride. So I kept my mouth shut.

But that’s the point. We all have different lives. We all have different trials. Experiencing one set of trials at one point in your life doesn’t make you any better than someone who has a different set at a different time.

My life has been rich and full, and not just with trials. As I move from one stage of my life to the next my perspective does change. But it cannot change to match the perspective of another because my life is not theirs. I can have empathy, but I cannot be the exact same as someone else because my life has influenced my perspective just as their life has influenced theirs. And I am not them.

Along with perspective issues are projecting issues. When trying to understand human behavior it is easiest to simply project our ideas, trials, life, and even perspective, onto others who we don’t understand or even know. “They must be thinking this way about that subject because that’s how I think about it.” Yet very little good can come out of this. I used to project my expectations and problems on to people around me and then I would get upset at them when they couldn’t live up to my personal expectations. It made me a very difficult person to live with. Deciding not to do that any more was not easy. But because I do not project as much any more I also don’t hold myself to such ridiculous expectations either. That cycle of perfectionism was broken. And not projecting expectations on people any more means they have a longer time to make their own impression on me and I can get to know them rather than getting to know me in another body.

One example of this projecting problem is the phrase, “Just you wait.” Just you wait till you’ve been married longer. Just you wait till you have kids. Just you wait … . Just I wait till what? Till I’m you? Till I’m married to your husband? Till I’m raising your kid? I can wait till the cows come home (and I don’t have any cows) and I still won’t have your problems, your perspective, your life. So I’m not going to wait.

I am not the stereotype. And I do everything I can to make sure people realize that. Your perspective is not my perspective. Projecting your life on me will not make me you. You cannot know a person simply by looking at a single card in their hand.

Simply admitting you have a perspective problem or a projecting problem does not do any good at all. It might make you feel better to say, “I have this problem.” You might think it makes you look good for others, and perhaps it does. But until you actually do something to change the problem, you’ll always have it. Until you decide to be different, you’ll always be the same. Stop expecting others to have the same perspective as you. Stop projecting yourself onto others, especially me.

I’m not who you think I am. Because I’m not you.

One shared thought about I’m not who you think I am

  1. Kim NYC says:

    Hi Giggles! It’s Kim from Brave Bride (and Kim NYC from APW).

    LOVE this post! And you’re so right about people stereotyping newlyweds, and engaged women (like me!), and Christians (also me), and short girls with a silly sense of humor who seem rather sunny on the outside but are more like the unpredictable deep blue sea on the inside (you guessed it, also me). So I HEAR you!

    Like you (and everyone else in the world), I do my share of projecting and stereotyping. But I’m workin’ on it. 😉

    One thing I challenge myself to do is NOT ask someone what they do for a living. You know how in college when you first meet someone you ask what their major is? Well, I tend to do that with adults: “So…what do you do?” I think I do this because I want to “learn them” quick ‘n easy, and also to engage in small talk. But I’ve found that it’s so fascinating to get to know others in the PRESENT MOMENT (as opposed to who they are for 8 hrs a day, and who I assume they are based on the title they carry during those 8 hrs).

    My goodness, this was a long “comment”. And my first one on your blog, too. Way to make an entrance!


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