What If I’m Not Who I Think I Am?


This post is by Joe Stephens




Anyone who has read the Jason Bourne books or seen the movies knows that Jason Bourne isn’t his real name. He was originally David Webb, but he was re-programmed into a killing machine with a new name. Things start to get wacky when his real self starts leaking through. And by wacky, I mean lots of people try to kill him, but he kills them first.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m more like Jason Bourne than I would like to admit. I don’t mean I secretly have a different name than I was born with and that I’m a government agent. I just mean that sometimes I worry that I am, like Bourne, walking around doing my normal everyday life things thinking that I’m one person but everybody else sees me completely differently. What if I have a false understanding of how the world sees me?

I may be wandering into an esoteric (and by esoteric I mean boring and unintelligible) animals, dogs, domesticated, pets, adorable, cute, muzzle, sleep, soil, stones, outdoorsarea, but this issue comes to my mind occasionally, and I tend to overthink things, so I thought I’d put the earworm in your mind and let it drive you crazy for a while. What if you think the world sees you the way you do, but in reality, their view of you is completely different? How would it feel to discover that?

Here’s what I’m talking about. I’m a teacher. I like to think that my kids all love me as girl, woman, brunette, hair, fashion, room, mirrormuch as I love them. But the reality is that some of them love me, some of them like me, some of them are indifferent to me, and still others have a barely concealed antipathy for me. I am aware of this fact intellectually. After all, no teacher is liked by every student. But from time to time I am confronted by it when that antipathy comes to the surface. When it does, I worry that I have a completely false idea of how I’m seen by my students and colleagues. That the people who are kind to me are being nice not because I deserve it but because they are too benevolent to tell me the truth—that I am, in reality, incompetent and weird. I keep wondering at what point, someone’s going to tire of the charade and come clean.

man, guy, face, smile, frown, happy, sad, mad, hair, eyes, mouth, nose, ears, peopleIt feels like there’s a book in this concept. Probably there have been many. The story of someone who spent his entire life believing something about himself, only to get to the end and learn that it’s all been a lie. That he wasn’t the positive force that he’d always believed himself to be, but instead was a pitiable fool to whom everyone had just been being kind. Doesn’t really sound like a fun book, especially if it turns out to be the blurb on the back of my autobiography. I hope it won’t be, but I can’t help fearing that it will. That’s just how my brain seems to work.

So, I guess the question is, if you have a completely skewed understanding of how you are seen in the world, would you rather know or would you rather live in blissful ignorance?

sunrise cover option 7Joe’s newest book,Dawn of Grace, just debuted on June 9. It’s available on Amazon.

ITS Cover ArtCheck out his third book, In The Shadow on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at his debut book, Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at his second book, Kisses and Lies on Amazon



22 thoughts on “What If I’m Not Who I Think I Am?

  1. You know we all go through that thought process, Joe. In college we did a group where people wrote how they saw us, with words or images. It was eye-opening. Still, I’m happy believing I am who I am and the rest of the world can just catch up. **GRIN**. Here’s to finding peace with your answer. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to live in the place where I feel that way all the time, but I just don’t. I spend most of my time there, but every once in awhile, I slip back into that old pattern of worry.


  2. I agree with Doris, I think we all go through that. I, especially, when someone says something to me to indicated they see me differently that I perceive myself. Crushing sometimes, encouraging the next. Being a people pleaser, I think I’d rather not know, yet want to know also. Conflict! I have seen this concept work however in some romance novels where the hero comes to a more flattering self-concept and forgiveness of himself because of how the heroine sees him. Appreciate your transparency. So many things can generate ideas for novels–nothing new probably but with a new twist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny that you mention flattering because I got an email yesterday that turned my darkly brooding mood (which had all but passed anyway) completely around. If it turns out to be true, it could be a huge positive for me. One that I never thought would ever happen.


  3. Joe, those are unique thoughts. I would like to think that everyone likes me, and Itry very hard to get people to like me. I know that’s silly. Thanks for making me ponder about this concept. Good luck with your new students. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kind of like a guy going into politics, thinking it’s his driving, passionate desire, only to learn he’d been manipulated since college days by a beautiful woman, now his wife and campaign manager as he runs for US Senate with a dream of the presidency. He starts checking his drinks and food… maybe she’s poisoning him, thinking she wants to take his place. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like that’s a reference to a real thing that I should know but I just don’t. Is it a famous book I’m an idiot for not knowing about?


      1. Nope, Joe. Just came out of my head. Lots of women in history who have been the driving force behind their politician husbands. Got me thinking what if one didn’t want to let hubby have all the glory.


  5. I have that backwards (a trend of mine, it seems) but I know very well who I am. It’s the world who thinks I’m something else. This includes the person I see in the mirror too, for I know its not me!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I totally understand your thought-process. I worry quite a bit. I know people call me “worrywort” and “neurotic” which I fully own up to. There have been a few moments in my life when I feel I’m one way but learn that people see me another way and it’s kind of shocking. I’ve spent too many wasted moments trying to rectify this but then give up. I can’t do anything about what people think and as long as I’m OK with what I’m doing, then that’s good enough. Better said than done, though, I know! Hang in there, Joe, and thanks for the introspective thoughtful post.


  7. “….people who are kind to me are being nice not because I deserve it but because they are too benevolent to tell me the truth—that I am, in reality, incompetent and weird.” I feel this way from time to time. Other times people tell me that I’m really nice and I want to argue, “I’m really not” for some reason. At times my self-esteem footing is uncertain. I hold contempt about myself for my station in life or lack of ___(fill the blank.) Other times I’m upset that I’m too Zen about life, letting things slide that shouldn’t. It’s good to be mellow and content, but sometimes I can’t handle it. I’ve spent my life mostly being a pleaser and making people happy. So often (but not always) if people have a problem with me and my soul says I am being fair/kind, then it is their problem. Sorry this is jumbled.


  8. I think a teacher always goes through those sorts of self doubts, Joe. But in answer to your ‘big question’ – I’d definitely rather know.
    I had challenging 11/12 year olds in my Primary school classes who definitely set themselves to be a burr under my skin but the funny thing is that years later I found out from the head teacher that some of them claimed I was one of their best teachers because I was strict, but fair- if a tad unbending in my approach to the kids. From my point of view, I was the way I was because it was how I needed to have control over the class and how I achieved the best learning objectives for the bulk of the pupils. I was in front of those kids all day, every school day- except maybe when specialist music or Physical Ed instructed the classes (though the class teacher being in attendance was expected by the Education Authority for most of my teaching years)
    Teachers always tread a fine line being thought of as nice & approachable, yet also being competent. I’m not sure how I would have been as a teacher of 17 year olds. I like to think I’d have been more relaxed but actually doubt it.


  9. I understand. I’ve wondered the same thing about myself. Teachers, I think, rarely know what students really think of them until years later, when former students (who found them on Facebook) tell them how much they learned and (the antipathetic ones) apologize for behaving badly. People change, perceptions change. Maybe the pitiable fool in the book discovers at the end that he’s the hero.


  10. Great post, Joe. I have wondered the same thing, mostly from my years in the working world, but occasionally in the present. Since I’ve retired I don’t worry about those things nearly as much, or at least they don’t mean as much. I would be surprised to wake up one day and find that I’m not me, or that parts of me don’t seem just right. But then, maybe I was right all along, who knows?


  11. Intriguing post, Joe. I do believe most of us can relate to your thoughts, at least some time in our lives. I used to worry a lot about what other people thought of me and I tried to become someone I thought would be loved more, respected more, etc. Now, I am of the mindset Doris mentioned — I am who I am and if people don’t like it, too bad — they can “friend” someone else. I am comfortable with myself much more than I ever used to be, and perhaps because I have grown in my faith, I look to God for my strength, confidence, and peace of mind; I am His child and He loves and accepts me because He made me. Yes, I can grow and should grow, but on His and my terms, not on the terms and parameters of other people. I hope you have an incredible school year!


  12. I tend to live in blissful ignorance, by choice. I am proud of what I consider my accomplishments. If the rest of the world doesn’t consider them valuable that’s fine. I am sure there are people that consider some of the things I do a waste of time. But to me they matter.


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