I mean really, who are you? Give me the deep. Give me the real. Give me the vulnerable. Give me the pain. Give me the joy. Who are you?
A couple months ago, a friend of mine brought this question up. You know the one. It’s at the beginning of all encounters with strangers.
“Hello, I’m (insert name here).”
“Nice to meet you (insert name here)! I’m (insert name here).”
“So what do you do?” And this question is usually answered by some sort of occupation. The conversation turns to job stories and then we part ways. They were really nice!
Were? Nice? Oh did we miss the boat. They ARE so much more than nice. Yet all we gathered during our 3 minute encounter was they do something x number of hours a week with education, or cars, or computers, or, or, or.
Have you noticed how easy it is to stay at the surface with someone? Maybe we don’t even realize it–I would argue it’s because as a culture we are afraid. Afraid to go deep with a stranger, afraid to go deep with an acquaintance. We want to be likable, but at what cost? The cost of actually being known.
It might feel safe to keep distance between what you do and who you are, but you might as well lock up any dream of being understood with this thought process. When I think of how many people I’ve kept at the surface, it’s saddening. The time was filled with emptiness–nothingness. I missed the opportunity to know them and to be known.
Do you know who you are?
Are you having a hard time answering the question for yourself? Who am I? Try answering the question for someone else, someone you really know. “(So and so) is extremely empathetic and really can feel the pain others are going through. They find the hope in the darkness and always look at life half-full. They are a fighter, and have conquered many valleys….” On and on and on. It’s captivating and you want to know them more.
I’ll tell you what, people are much more likable once I know them. Or once I begin to know them for who they are. Isn’t our culture so backwards sometimes?
Here’s my double-dog-dare: the next time you talk to someone, ask them the question. “Who are you?” Sure it’s going to be awkward, but the one minute of awkwardness will be nothing compared to the forever feeling of being known. I would also bet the conversation will last much longer than 3 minutes so make sure you cross a few things out of that crowded schedule to make extra time! You never know who you might bump into.
So here we go, who are you?