I’m an outsider looking in, just like I’ve always been, and I’m not sure how to be different. I’m not even sure that I want to.
I’ve always had this fascination with strangers. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to share secrets with a stranger compared to someone you actually know? Is that only me? It mustn’t be. Sometimes people say I’m odd when I say that, but there are those few who understand. They understand the value of a moment. A single moment when all reservations are lost and you get to say exactly what you wanted to say without the fear of it resurfacing. A moment where a secret remains a secret even though it’s been said out loud. A moment that is strange within itself…
It is strange. Don’t you see? That there are so many fears and consequences that are associated with knowing a person and letting them into your life. Fears and consequences that are not relevant when speaking to a stranger.
It is odd to think of a friend as a threat to you. But how could they be any less? With every secret you share and every issue you let be known, you give a piece of yourself away. Those pieces are connected to your heart and the full extent of your being. How is that not threatening? How is that not scary? For someone to know you so well that you can no longer hold a poker face against them? For others to know things about you that you would never tell anyone else?
Think of all they can do with the you that they know! Think of all of the pain they can cause! The embarrassment… These people who hold ties to your life. These people who you care for. Who know the people that you know, but also the feelings that you have towards them…
But it’s different with a stranger.
With a stranger, you are who you say you are and can do what you say you can do. A stranger doesn’t know your limitations or whether or not you’re a compulsive liar. A stranger knows what you tell them and doesn’t look any further than that. For a single, strange, and miraculous moment you can be whomever you wish to be and nobody knows the difference. Whereas, with people you know you can no longer be who you want to be and instead will forever remain who you are.
And there’s a power in being able to choose who you are, you know? There’s a power in being who you want to be and escaping your life for a little while. For someone to believe in all those lies that you tell yourself in the morning. That you’re happy. That you’re pleasant. That you’re exactly where you want to be. That there’s nothing you would change. Because they don’t know you! They don’t know your fears! They don’t know your anxieties! How could they possibly tell that you’re unhappy when you smile as wide as you do? How could they possibly know that you hate conversations when you speak as eloquently as you’re doing right now?
They don’t know and the chances are that they’ll never know. That’s the beauty of a stranger.
But I know that people prefer the company of friends. I’ve seen it. I understand. People prefer the comforting feeling of being able to be who you are with no further expectations of how you should be. People like that the people they know hold lower standards for them because who they are is already what everyone else is used to. That’s reasonable I suppose. It’s nice and easy and pressure free, but it’s not something I prefer. Or maybe it’s just too common for me to accept that I want it?
Sometimes it’s very hard for me to discern the things I don’t want from those other things that I just won’t admit to wanting. It’s true I love the idea of strangers, but is it a momentary love? A love that comes and then passes just as easily as I do from the memory of a stranger?
Is that what keeps me on the outside? My unwillingness to admit how similar I am to other people? My love for the strange and unusual merely because it is strange and unusual? It’s an intriguing thought. It’s a thought I could spend much time contemplating, but for now I’d like to think that I like the idea of strangers because they see me as how I’d like to see myself. They see those initial parts of me that I find most important to convey while friends always seem to move past them, forming a complete picture of me that I have yet to form myself. And maybe I just don’t want them to be right, you know? Maybe I just don’t want their picture to be better than mine so I turn to people who have no picture at all.
Silly? I’m not sure. But definitely different. Or at least I hope…