Do we really want to know what people think of us?

I once got asked, in a mock interview, ‘what do the people who know you, think of you?’ My answer was vague and uncertain: something along the lines of, ‘they probably think I’m weird,’ without being able to explain why or in what way. This is because most of the people in our lives never explicitly tell us what they think of us. Maybe they allude to the qualities they like, or we infer from the qualities they openly dislike that we don’t possess those.

What do people think of me? I’d like to think that they see me as honest, loyal, funny, smart, unique, etc. What’s more likely is that different friends/family members/colleagues/acquaintances will all see me in different ways. Tutors might consider me punctual and studious. My children no doubt find me bossy and annoying, if occasionally funny. My friends may think I’m overbearing and nosy. My mother thinks I’m great (obviously) because she has to.

My point, which has taken a while to arrive at, is that today, I got to read two personal references that were written about me by gentlemen I’ve know for ten and twenty years respectively. I don’t see them or speak to them every day. Point of fact, I often don’t even think of them (much to my shame). One is a family friend; the other is my Mother’s long-term partner. One is gregarious and whimsical; the other is diffident and somewhat serious. They’re both intelligent, thoughtful, open-minded, well-travelled, and knowledgeable.

What’s most interesting to me is that, though they both described me in a different way, they both picked out elements of my character that I’m always striving for and never certain of. The point of this post was not to blow my own trumpet by detailing the lovely things that they both wrote. It’s more about noting that, in knowing what they value about me, I feel like I know more about them. I’m both honoured and touched by their regard.

It also makes me wonder if, perhaps, I should tell the people in my life, more often and more honestly: what I think of them; why I like them; and what I value about them.

Would you want to know? 😉

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