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On the One Hand

Have you ever had someone paint a picture of you that you don’t recognize? I’m talking not of portraits, but a picture in words, an opinion of who you are and what you have done that takes your breath away because it is so totally different from the way you see yourself. Than the way you want them to see you.

I recently had a conversation with someone that left me scrambling to make sense of the differences between their perception and my own. I am not naive or egotistical enough to imagine that I have no flaws, but to be accused of faults I have no knowledge of, no awareness, and an abhorrence to leaves me feeling a little lost and insecure. Are they right? Am I?

I know my image of myself is not completely unprejudiced (usually in favor of myself but often against), but the other view isn’t completely accurate either. They don’t know everything that has happened in my life, in my head, and neither are they completely impartial as they judge what they do know. The truth has to lie somewhere in between the two, doesn’t it?

The conversation left me with a “What now?” kind of feeling. On the one hand, I want to tear through the past, looking for concrete proofs–letters, emails, texts, photos, recordings, journal entries, anything–that will reveal the truth of what kind of person I actually am. I’m not sure if the purpose of such ransacking would be to prove something to myself or to the other person. Mostly, though, this urge stems from a knowledge to want to know the truth. Who am I? What is the true balance of character that is Debra R. Borys, Deb, Debbie, mother, daughter, sister, friend?

On the other hand, I want to dig a hole and live in it. I want to build walls and hide behind them. I want to be a hermit who lives in the cave and only communes with squirrels and wolves and woodpeckers. I want to quit.

I have to pick a path somewhere in the middle. One foot in front of the other, doing the best I can with what I have, whatever that might be. Looking for a way to keep balanced. I will keep the criticisms in the back of my mind, weigh them against my experiences to see if I might learn from them and improve. Embrace what helps, discard what harms. Try, try, try. What else can we do?

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