Stretching Reflections

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I think one of the the biggest problems with being a person is that there just isn’t enough attention to go around.

There isn’t enough attention for every person to get their loving fill and stay filled. We all need to take whatever reflective bits others can afford to give us about ourselves and somehow expand upon them. Often the instinct is to stretch them out from patches into full pairs of identity clothes. And it’s the stretching of these mini reflections to full identities where I think it goes wrong. Take a common human social experience:

A larger population finds your sense of humor annoying while a small population digs it. A simple quick patch might stretch that into either of the two “full” identities:
“well I guess I’m only funny to oddballs so I’m a loser”
OR
“I’m a special type of funny only edgy people get and the normies don’t get”.

But I think the secret is to somehow hold off on the patching, slow down on the fabricating stories about yourself and the world. There’s no way a single patch, a single moment, a single interaction, positive or traumatizing can encapsulate your full spectrum of identity. the stretching makes it worse and the stories, the voices we set on repeat and use as staples to hold it in place are all techniques of a terrible identity craftsperson. And yes, the alternative is nudity, vulnerability, sides of yourself left unknown, yet to be reflections by society. Parts of yourself left free and open to be seen by people other than the 5 bullies in your 4th grade.

To resist the temptation to stretch what we “know” about our “selves” from handpicked memories into an encompassing identity requires patience, mindfulness and breath. Seriously, breath, it’s not even something to worry about doing, it’s just a doing you’re already being, and “breathing” is just letting you be the being doing before you become the someone doing.

Of course this whole, walking around with missing identity patches is one of the toughest parts about being a social human. One major reason is that it’s not just us that does the stretching. Often times people will want to, or appear to want to toss an entire pair of clothes at you after reflecting only a single moment. While I think it is totally natural to form encompassing clothes from first impressions, the amount to which someone will stretch this into an entire outfit may also reflect the restrictive clothing THEY wear. What’s most important here is framing.

Framing in essence is relative. For the observer the frame is against their eye and therefore encompasses all of you. From your perspective the frame is around their eye and encompasses their perspective of you. What they send is really the size of one eye patch, it’s a “You are this to that person for this action at this time in this place”. This resizing of others opinions helps keep it manageable without throwing it out, which is important because there is truth in every reflection, no matter the size or ugliness about both you and them and the mirrors inside. If framed safely and consciously one could consider every other person’s perspective as a valuable new way to know a new bit about themselves.

So you’ve resisted the temptation to stretch the good patches to fit over your entire soul, and managed to shrink the clothes from others eyes down to eye size, great, so you’re still mostly naked. Another daunting pit one could fall in while gallivanting naked in a minefield of eye daggers is a panic attack. Considering what others reflect back on you is mostly a reflection of whatever you put out, if you put out “I have no idea who I am and I’m focusing on that”, that’s what you get back. If you are looking in and out at the same time and people are a reflection of that you will just see yourself as an infinite tunnel of in-looking (maybe a panic attack?). I think the trick here is all in the order of operations. I find successful social self awareness comes from the following order:

  1. BE,
  2. SEE OTHERS,
  3. SEE HOW OTHERS SEE YOU.

The panic attack is missing #1 and #2. While technically YOU are whatever your awareness is in that moment, what most social interactions really want to know about you is the algorithm of natural and nurtural origin and the collection of memories that compels your unique reactions to stimuli! You absolutely cannot flow forwards through that black box of youness if you are busy looking in, and certainly won’t get or give any sort of useful feedback on who you are. So then how the fuck do you BE if you know you’re unable to see your parts?

Well, you can either start with parts you’re pretty darn sure of and are ok with, like hobbies, special interests, etc. BUUUT inevitably there will be much more to YOU than these tangible things and that’s where option #2 is really best. Find something you can do with others that is either so enjoyable or active that you are too busy doing to watch yourself and hold up old clothes. This is exactly why I love dancing, because it literally doesn’t work unless you can just BE. Just input->instant output. In that millisecond decision time between input and output is the real you, its the you you can’t actually ever really know, you can only be. The closest you can get to knowing that person in the society-relevant way is to be that person as often as possible and after doing and being, see the way that person makes others feel, to take in that reaction, to breathe with it, to add this new reflection to the tapestry and keep going. Keep adding angles, keep seeing yourself in different people’s eyes.
It’s not going to be easy and it’s never done. You are never going to have a “complete” social self awareness because you are never going to meet everyone and have every type of interaction….

So yeah, we die witnessing a strange tapestry of reflections and internal refractions of who we think is dying.

But it’s all a very necessary tapestry. When all identities and reflections of each other are tied together, that’s society, that’s how we know ourselves as people, as families, as groups, as nations, as conscious beings, it’s all a wild reflection-mess. The more time we can spend gathering reflections from healthy mirrors, and the more vulnerable moments we can breath through instead of fabricating and stretching past reflections the better we can operate and the better we can reflect back. The more ways you can see yourself the more ways you can see others. If you can give yourself the time and patience and breath and brave the vulnerable states to find the people who love the parts of yourself you haven’t seen be loved, then you can love those parts in other people. You can let the world know those parts of you, of others, of humans, are there, and lovable.

The other way to know yourself of course is to just be AWARE of what its like BEING without any societal relation. Just bones muscles and skin and a border between in and out.

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Just another blob of flesh spitting out brain spawn in the face of death.

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Alex Ezorsky

Alex Ezorsky

Just another blob of flesh spitting out brain spawn in the face of death.

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