When we enter the world, awareness sets in. A sense of the other is eternally present, an internalized gaze directed towards us from those capable of judgement and praise. The significance lies not in the fact that we are being seen, but in the knowledge that we are being seen and how this affects our own actions.

Our current culture emphasizes visibility in all aspects of life. Social media actively promotes the constant display of private, everyday activities. Perception is everything. There seems to be an unstated assumption that unless something is documented, it doesn’t matter; that unless something is shared, it has no worth. Actions begin to gain value for how they can be shown to others, rather than for the carrying out of the actions themselves.

Does this heightened awareness influence our behaviour? I would argue that it alters our intentions and expression of self quite profoundly. Our intentions are what direct our path; they are the foundation and motivation behind our actions. So what happens when thoughts of external reactions begin to seep into our plans and decision-making processes? What happens when we set out to do something with the knowledge of how it will make us appear?

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It’s highly unlikely any of us have been spared that moment of rejection: of loneliness and deep-seated disappointment when someone we trusted lets us down. Life has certain inevitabilities, and sadly, I think this is one of them. We are all too human to repay or be repaid entirely for our own trust or another’s trust in us. However, I think there is something to be said for our role in who lets us down and how they do so.

A lot of life is spent looking for others who will understand us, or at least take the time to try. In my opinion, this is one of our most deeply felt human needs: the need to be understood. We all want someone to listen to our hopes and fears and feelings, to see us truly as we are.

At the same time, we often don’t want to talk. I know there have been many occasions when my response to the generic “how are you?” query is “fine,” when I’ve been anything but. I want to be seen, and yet I shrink away from the light if it might expose my weaknesses. A paradox of sorts. Maybe it’s because I’m not comfortable with generic. Maybe none of us are comfortable with generic, with shallow, surface level interactions, even though we often pursue and produce them.

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The Perils of People Pleasing

I have never been the kind of person who is eager to spark conflict or garner hostility. I suppose most people don’t deliberately create confrontation, but I’m not referring to a disposition merely not inclined to seeking ill will. In my case, it might be more accurately described as avoidance.

Perhaps it’s due to overthinking. Does everyone exhaust all the gruesome possibilities of unfavourable reactions from others? For every actual conversation, my mind fabricates many more divergent paths, unpleasant outcomes that will surely arise if I say something to ruffle the feathers of my companion.

What should I say? What will she think if I say that? She might be upset. I think she might be mad
at me. Oh no! I said it. I can’t tell if she’s mad at me now. She might be offended. What is she thinking about me now?

Sometimes reason responds quite succinctly: Why do you care?

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That time of year has come again. Valentine’s Day. The day on which a lucky few receive chocolate and flowers and are lavished with love and affection. The day on which the rest of us wish we were on the other side.

What is it we feel we’re missing? Love may seem like the obvious answer, but we still have family and friends who care about us deeply. So where does the stigma of being “single on Valentine’s Day” come from? And why does the absence of a significant other qualify one as “alone?”

One of the utmost longings of the human heart is the desire for love. We want it. We crave it. But what is it about love that draws us in? Although most of us have been loved since the moment of our birth, those childhood attachments somehow seem insufficient.

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Who do you think I am?

Who am I?

It’s the age-old struggle, the question we’ve all asked ourselves at least once in our lives. This search for our genuine identity begins when we are young and never seems to be completely done. There’s peace with continued self-discovery, but is there ever a point where one can at last leave the doubts behind and say “Aha! That is who I am”? As I ask this very question to myself, I can’t help but sing the familiar strains of the song “Who am I” from Les Miserables. So perhaps before going on, I’ll take a brief musical interlude.

Jean Valjean’s moral dilemma brings to mind the difficulties involved when attempting to create a new identity. We probably haven’t escaped slavery and then adopted a new persona as mayor of a small town, but there may be pieces of our past that we’d like to leave behind. Haven’t you ever wanted to start anew? Think of the possibilities, of the freedom, the power. Imagine if you moved to a completely different city where no one knew you at all. Then you could be whoever you wanted to be. Couldn’t you?

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In God’s Eyes

It’s been a very, very long time since I last posted on this blog, but I’m hopeful that I can turn over a new leaf and start making more regular updates. As one of the co-leaders of a new Christian Youth Group at my school, I thought it would be nice (and give me some structure), if I wrote a blog each week about our ever-changing theme. This week the theme was dating…

You may ask (and would be totally justified in doing so), what makes me qualified to write any kind of reflection about dating? I’ve never dated anyone before and I’ve never had a boyfriend. So maybe it does mean that I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to having relationships, but I think I am more than qualified when it comes to not having them.

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