For most of my life, I always believed that everyone was like me. With the common saying “walk a mile in someone’s shoes”, so I would imagine myself in their shoes—whether it was too big or too small, i would imagine. I would see myself thinking, examining, imagining. Yes, I would suspend judgement, but sometimes I couldn’t understand how others don’t think the way I do.
They say that my personality is one that has a rich inner life. Yet what does that mean? That inside my head explosions of color, dreams, and life live? If that’s the case, does that mean that others don’t have rich inner lives? That their inner lives are devoid of color and brightness? That their inner lives are so empty? But it doesn’t matter, because they are already happy.
What I love doing is thinking playing with hypothetical situations or imagine the stories of other people. Some call it a thought exercise. But sit me down in an airport and this is what happens. I watch the couple walk toward the terminal and think that perhaps they are going on a vacation, but perhaps they weren’t quite happy about it, that one had to use up all their PTO and the other demanded that they needed to spend time together and viola, that’s how they are like on this trip. Or perhaps it’s the trio on the other side of the line. They are visiting family, but this time, the visit isn’t just a visit. It’s because the woman’s aunt who she knew as a child but started to drift as an adult has started a steep decline toward death. This is the game that I play in my head, poking my mind into all the possible unknowns.
Or the problems that rest on my shoulders. I examine them almost immediately. Because I must in order to reach some reasonable solution in the short term otherwise the anxiety would explode into panic and headaches. I think about why an event coordinator hasn’t gotten back to me. I think about how to exert responsibility as a tenant so that my landlord doesn’t come around knocking. I think about how to make use of all the fresh produce resting in my refrigerator. I think about the games I must play, the email that I must answer, the unfinished conversations on Facebook, my prejudices and biases that are getting in the way, and finally whether I can ever organize my room in a respectable fashion. I think about all of this as I sit at my desk running through a list that numbers in the hundreds. Sometimes just by thinking through all of this, a sense of relief moves through my body. It’s ok, I think, it’s ok.
I think differently. I always have. Occasionally, it bothers me. Especially when people start to admire it. But in the end, all I want is to be me and understood.