Do You Talk to Yourself, to Others?

I am only a decent Sociology student.

Triggered, my friends. They either knit their eyebrows, or they angry emoji me. “Why so humble?” or “Don’t nonsense!”

But I wasn’t kidding or angling for compliments.

Here’s the ambiguity that ever complicates social life: Is one speaking to the other, or is one speaking to oneself? When you talk to people, do you present an image of yourself tailored to that particular person or group? Or do you try to present yourself as is?

It seems that most of the time, we tailor our words and selves to fit our audience and their conventions. Not that it’s a bad thing; it keeps everyday life going. It would be a hassle if every “How are you?” is greeted with an extensive examination of one’s emotions or a regurgi-gurgi-tation of one’s routines.

Yet there are moments which can do with a little extraordinary. That means behaving a little unexpectedly. And so I did. Among people who value my intelligence favourably, and whose intelligence I too rate highly, I tried to present an honest self-assessment, true to that moment. Intelligence, as they defined it, was not a measure I use for myself or others. I knew the shortcomings of my mental processes. I tried to present myself as is.

I was not talking to others. I was talking to myself, to others.

Quirky self-presentation

[Credit: Flickr]

As you know already, this met with resistance. Why so? More ambiguity. It could be that they knew better, that they believe I’m better than that. It could be that they think I knew better, that I’m being sarcastic. Or it could be that they were being sarcastic (first group) or brutally honest (second group), that they actually think I’m far from decent.

Okay that last one’s a stretch, even by my imagination. Right, friends? Any…one?

Is it worth bucking the norms of social interaction? It can certainly be risky in some contexts, especially if you are not attuned to the bounds of reasonableness for the other. But don’t we all have the wish to be understood? And how can we be understood—or even understand ourselves—if we only ever play to the cards of social acceptance?

It can become selfish, but suspend that suspicion. Listen to the possibilities for now. How pleasing it would be, to have friends who can accept our quirky. The kind of quirky that gives rise to new patterns of behaviour as we evolve through stages in life.

Or the kind of quirky that ends a post without explaining the first statement, as is: Why do I consider myself only a decent Sociology student?

I deserve an angry emoji.

Socio Empath

Hi, my name is Eugene. I am a Sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore. This blog is an invitation: To see our selves as colored by cultures, and to brighten the colors of our society. I seek to help you create freedom in everyday life, with empathy and the sociological imagination.

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