You simply cannot foresee how someone will be or react or act simply because you’ve known them a long time.
I thought I could achieve this, so many, many years ago. If I spent enough time with a person, I would come to see their true self. People choose to present themselves to you in a particular way, their best self forward, and rightly so. And in the course of time, sometimes, other elements of themselves come to the forefront as well, either through their own choosing or oftentimes, without much effort or realisation that this is happening.
You could assume that if the price was right, if the objective was worthy enough, people could continue to present themselves in a particular way, for a long enough period of time. It’s not malicious, just putting your best foot forward. But you simply cannot present a particular version, as you would, of yourself, forever. It’s just not possible, or worth the time and effort. It’s difficult and exhausting.
And so the real person comes out. Or rather, the person, as a whole, comes more into the light and you see more facets of what is there.
But there are other critical factors to consider.
Firstly, experiences play a huge part in character formation. And it’s not just character formation – experiences allow you to see a person more fully. You cannot rely on words alone to gauge a person – their thought process, their behaviour, their reactions all help you to gauge them more thoroughly.
And if the right set of experiences are not present when you are, these realisations about who a person is and what he is about lie dormant, unseen.
Secondly, people change or evolve. They simply cannot remain the same self through the years. They change in response to how they develop, their experiences and the people around them. And if they change, you need to be privy to all they’ve experienced and all their thoughts to somehow understand how they think and process information – which is not possible.
And so… simply knowing someone for a period of time, and thinking that shared experiences, meaning and context, means knowing someone fully, is still not enough. You only need a new set of experiences – ones that neither of you have experienced, individually or together, to see that things can change.
More than anything else, what goes on in our mind, the things we tell ourselves about what we face, our internal dialogue, has such huge impact on us and our relationships. The closer the interpretation of our situation and the meaning attributed to it and how we manifest this in our dialogues and relationships, the more aligned we are.
We can live with someone our whole lives and simply not know who they are
… if we choose not to see what is really before us;
… if they hide what they really mean;
… if there’s not enough real dialogue.
And so it pays, at times, to ponder and question exactly what it is that you think you know.