Who's That Girl We All Adore?

This is a song my dad made up when I was a baby:

Who’s that baby in the mirror?

Who’s that girl we all adore?

[dah-da dah-da dah-da da, … …]

Anyway. That’s beside the point. I’d just learnt to recognise myself in mirrors. Hello, me. My point is, sometimes it really bothers me, you know? I see myself in several ways: confident, a bit feminist, gutsy, opinionated and independent (none or few of those are particularly true, but I can dream); whiny, girly, lacking in confidence, motivation or style, melodramatic, pathetic, over-reliant on others; somewhere in between. I hope I’m nearer the former than the latter.

Then, in real life, the truth is slightly different. I don’t know how other people truly see me. I know A finds me hilarious, and I must assume I am also a good friend to him in some capacity – good advice, good company, I don’t know what it is. I’m completely amnesiac so I feel bad that every time he wants to come and complain about something that’s bothering him he has to give me the backstory again each and every time. R finds me amusing too, that I know. I know that I am valued by a lot of people but other than the obvious – when people laugh it’s because you’re being funny either because you just did something really stupid or because you’re actually genuinely witty, and to be honest I don’t mind which of the above is true and hopefully I find both of those things quite funny anyway.

What I’m not saying here is, ‘why do people like me? please like me? I’m such a terrible person and I have no self-esteem and I’m not really worth a second of your time, sorry sorry sorry’. I am liked. I get it. What I want to know and what is impossible to really tell is how people percieve me, whether they like me or not. What is my character according to others?

And then there’s another side: how does how I seem in the real world compare to the self I present here on this blog, online, in front of you lot? How do I get judged?

I know I have my faults, but I think they’re different faults depending on how you interact with me. I think where online I can be bolshy, argumentative, opinionated and even sometimes completely out of order, in the real world I go almost the opposite way. I find it difficult to hold and espouse an opinion. I find it difficult to express my opinions in the first place although I am a lot better at that than I used to be; and when people I know, like and admire come along and say very definitely, ‘I, Joe Bloggs, see things like this. The world is This Way’, that sort of dogmatic viewpoint will hugely sway me such that I suddenly find that I don’t disagree. And then half an hour later when I’ve stopped talking to Joe Bloggs and am now in fact on my own on my way home I suddenly realise that I don’t actually entirely agree with Joe Bloggs and I’ve somehow fooled myself into thinking that way because, oh, I like Joe Bloggs and he’s clever so he must be right. I don’t do that on the internet. I go almost the other way. I read an opinion and I’m more likely to start deconstructing it and thinking of counterarguments and ripostes and even put-downs. So is it that I am more confident behind the protection of the screen? There’s an XKCD to that effect, I’m sure of it.

In real life I am much more of a pushover, I think I am probably sweeter, whinier, more effeminate, and to be honest if I am to be thought of as in any way annoying I would rather be thought bolshy and tough than girly and weak.

I don’t know, it’s odd. I don’t know how I come across on the internet or in real life, I don’t know how they differ, and then you have the me in my head, constantly going ‘but you said completely the opposite the other day’ or ‘you’ve really backed yourself into a corner there, haven’t you?’. Tied into all of this is the question of readership. I don’t worry too much – I know, given the fraction of my friends that actively know about my blog and the size of my readership here that actually not that many people I know read this blog and that most of the readership is probably actually strangers (weird thought), so that’s OK. Hello lurkers. But I don’t know – I wonder if it’s odd, being a lurker who I know in real life, and thinking, this isn’t quite the Jenny I know. And I find it odd that there are people who do read the blog and who do know me well in real life and does this blog make sense to them given how well they do or do not know me? And does it seem to fit with me more coherently to those people who know me better, or is there not really a correlation there?

It’s impossible to see yourself from the outside. I’m starting to feel a bit insane. Next I’ll be having an out of body experience and waving disconcertedly at my own ears, so instead I shall… watch Lark Rise?

It’s probably bed time. I think the point I was originally trying to make may have got lost in the post.



Filed under Blogging, Friendship, Internet, Life, Relationships, Society, Thoughts

6 responses to “Who's That Girl We All Adore?

  1. I can see what you’re getting at; I know personally I have a hard time disentangling what I know about myself from the inside contrasted against how other people must see me. I only hope that some of my wilder tendencies towards narcissism and pretension are disregarded!

    I like to think that I’m the same mildly misanthropic rant-happy person on my blog as I am in real life; Dickie will probably back me up on that. Alas, I don’t think my blog gets a large readership of randoms, I think it’s just a smattering of real life people. Except that one time I got mobbed by Reddit.

    As to how you appear, I’m afraid not knowing you in the flesh I can’t compare, but you seem very much like how you describe your online self, intelligent, opinionated, I would also venture prolific (which is a good thing, you’re one of the things spurring me to think more of late, which is always fun) and with a little undercurrent of crazy, which I personally quite like in a person, it’s like how everything’s nicer with a little hint of chilli sauce.

    Or a lot. I am far too addicted to Nandos.

  2. ursaminor

    The internet is a part of real life. That is what people do not understand. The collection of thoughts & opinions you are publishing here form a collection that conform to something like a persona. But you are a person.

    There is something in responding to words than to a human face & the vast gulf of difference of experience between them – but it is all you.

    Ay, there’s the rub.

  3. Jenny

    I know it’s all me – but it’s different facets of me, which sometimes seem so different that they could in fact be two entirely different people. I am braver online, but then, who isn’t.

    I get the feeling also that I can see my blogself more clearly than I can see myself in the real world. I guess it’s because this is the edited version – this is where I get to pick and choose how I present myself, and although I wouldn’t say I am in any way acting or whatever I think this does me the chance to edit out e.g. my total hypochondria or inability to mildly injure myself, turn an ankle, trap a nerve, or have some kind of crazy nervous spasm (all of which seem to happen stupidly often) without screaming out madly (and I bet that those kinds of things happen to other people all the time and they just bite their lips and deal with it, so what’s up with me?).

    I’m glad I make you think, Andy :). And yes, I don’t like to be one of those people that crows about how ‘I’m totally maaaad’, because the more mad someone claims they are the less ‘mad’ they actually seem, in my opinion. I suppose I am my own person and I have a fairly odd sense of humour and all of that might seem a bit crazy sometimes, and I like that.

  4. mikel

    well I don’t know you other than from skulking around reading your blog so couldn’t really comment on which of the various you’s you describe πŸ™‚
    All I can say is there is a Scottish saying that was oft repeated to me through the years that sort of says what you are saying.
    Wud that God the gift tae gie us, to see oorsel’s as ithirs see us. In other words the ability to see ourselves sas other see us is not one of the gifts God has bestowed upon us all.

    Just as well too I think, It’s hard enough being me warts and all without worrying about the fact that Fred sees me witty but Joe sees me as sarcastic at the same time as whoever see’s me as something else. We’d end up running around trying to change ourselves to fit into someones perception, depending on how much that someone and their perceptions means to you. You can’t do that. You’d end up going round in circles, esp if they are all with you at the same time and their perceptions all mattered πŸ™‚
    How close is your blogself to your real self, I’d say to us lurkers it doesn’t matter as we’ll never get to compare the two but we still come back and read your blog so that persona must be entertaining. To your friends I suspect it doesn’t matter ‘cos they’re your friends, and they know what you’re like when you’re with them and presumably like what they see/get as they’re still your friends. Does that lot make sense?
    Sorry been writing a large document for workall day and I think I’ve had enough so it’s probably rather rambly!

  5. Jenny

    I don’t know, I’d like to have a better idea of the gap between who I am in myself and who I am according to others. But then I might not like what I heard – that said, I don’t necessarily like a lot of what I have to say about myself. I know I have faults and I don’t like them but I sometimes wonder if the things I don’t like in myself are the same as the things that other people don’t like in me.

    That said you make a very interesting point about fitting into others’ perceptions of us – so I definitely don’t want to know, because like you say there’d be a very high risk that we would all just constantly try to change to make people like us a little bit more, and the world simply doesn’t work like that, believe me, I’ve tried.

    I guess in the end there’s no point in worrying about any of this – people either like me or they don’t. But then that’s not really what I’m worrying about, if worrying is really the word: I’m just curious as to, well, what I’m really like. Or how I appear. I’m not sure if the ‘real’ me is the perceptions others have of me, or the existence I have in my head. Both are surely equally important and valid aspects of self.

  6. mikel

    Bingo <> or in other words WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get!). I know you say you aren’t worrying about that particularly but I think thats so important for people to “get” – You are who you are, and are not or should not be what other people want you to be.
    Curiosity is a healthy thing. If you are curious enough, and perhaps brave enough – do something outrageous and ask them. Your friends should tell you the truth (and probably lynch me for suggesting it :Β¬) ).

    have fun asking

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