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) area, 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 much 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.
It 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?
Joe’s newest book,Dawn of Grace, just debuted on June 9. It’s available on Amazon.
Check out his third book, In The Shadow on Amazon
Take a look at his debut book, Harsh Prey on Amazon
Take a look at his second book, Kisses and Lies on Amazon