It’s a funny thing. I’ve realised recently that there are different ways of valuing peoples’ opinions. There are some friends whose opinions I value, and other’s whose good opinions I value. That’s about the simplest way of putting it, I think. And while I might be closer to friend A than friend B, I would rather friend A thought well of me and so I won’t let him or her hear me sing or read things I write in case they don’t think I’m great shakes. Meanwhile I don’t know B so well and yet (or perhaps for exactly that reason) I don’t mind if they think my singing or my writing isn’t terribly good. Perhaps it’s just the way different people are, perhaps some people are better at being critical, and it wouldn’t matter who I was to A, they’d always make me feel bad for not being the best singer they’d ever heard, and they’d also make persons C, D and E feel that way too, but meanwhile B would say I like this, but that is something you could work on. Or, perhaps, just, that was lovely, dear, because after all we’re friends and amateurs and perhaps critiquing and improvement isn’t the name of the game when after all you’re just messing around singing a song you love one evening after supper. So in some sense despite knowing them less well I trust B more than A because I can be more honest, rather than feeling that in some way I have to be a slightly better version of myself than I really am I can be entirely all that I am.
Or perhaps it depends on the thing. I mean, A (back to real initials now) is good at this writing thing, and so I show him a lot of (but not all of) my writing. But I would be more shy about singing in front of him and had successfully up until quite recently avoided playing the cello in front of him. Which was silly, he didn’t hate me for being out of practice, he just laughed at my ‘concentrating’ face and went back to reading his book, which was exactly the reaction I wanted, really.
Or perhaps all friendships are like this, and there are very few people you can be your entire self in front of. Perhaps it’s only when you’re living with someone – housemates, a partner, family – that you basically have to lose that front, and even then only if you’re adult enough to trust your family, child enough not to care, and friend enough not to worry about what your housemates might think about your teddybear collection/singing/juggling-in-the-sitting-room habit. And even then it’s not everything. They might have to hear you sing or watch you juggle but they’re not going to read your writing, say, or see you embroidering things, necessarily, or catch you hoovering whilst naked.
To clarify – yes, I do still have all my teddies from childhood, but I never had that many and they all fit on my top shelf of my bookcase at home, in a perpetual teddybear’s picnic. No, I can’t juggle, though I do (sometimes) do poi. I sing sometimes when I’m washing up or doing housework, I like singing, I don’t think I’m bad at it, but I’d still be nervous about singing in front of people I know, at least whilst sober. I can’t embroider things. I don’t write much these days although I used to keep a journal. And I don’t go in for housework in the nude.
I think of myself as quite an honest person, I wouldn’t say I put up a front in front of anyone, but I would say that I play down my talents in front of people I know who are probably better than me at those things, especially when I know those things matter to those people, and I think that’s perhaps true for most people. I think different friendships are for different sides of a character and I don’t think that’s a problem – if T and I see one another when we want to be girly and daft, or if L and I quite often get drunk and childish, or if I’m thoughtful and serious and intellectual around M or C or J; that’s not to say I can’t be serious with L, or that M is never childish and silly around me, just that, actually, here it is – it’s actually impossible to exhibit every facet of your personality at once. It’s probably impossible for anyone to ever actually know all of you anyway even half as well as you know yourself. And so of course you trust people in different ways.
Sometimes this blog is the most pointless stream-of-consciousness babble. I guess we’re constantly trying to figure out how we think about the world around us – not, I mean, how the world works, but how we think about the way in which it works. The mechanisms by which we understand our relationships with others. Do you know what I mean? And so, of course, if I decide to try and write it all down you get blog entries like this; or conversations that go in massive circles and waste far too many teabags.