I was thinking last night about how others see me. In talking with a classmate, it was clear that she felt I was outgoing and confident. Stunned, I told her I sat through 4 years of college without ever raising my hand. And that not one of my professors would even remember who I was. She said she couldn't believe that was true.
Yet it was. I really did. I was afraid to answer questions, afraid I might seem stupid, afraid I might seem too smart, afraid I was uncool, unpopular, unliked. Mostly just afraid to be myself. I don't remember when it shifted, and I have always assumed that I still appear that way to others, even though I don't feel that way inside.
Is it age that makes you more you? is it experience? Is it that way for everyone? or is it just me? I know I feel like I haven't changed in decades. My "mental self" seems pegged at 22. I have to do the math in my head sometimes to remember how old I am. Yet something unquantifiable has changed; there is a difference in there somewhere. What would it be like, I wonder, if for one fleeting moment, you could see yourself as others see you?