Suppose you make a new acquaintance at a social gathering. What is the one thing you would like that person to understand about you? Is there some essential bit of information that defines you as a person?
Maybe it is your chosen profession, or a particular hobby you enjoy. Maybe you feel you are defined by your belief on some topic, or your political leanings. Some people seem to think their musical tastes, or the movies they enjoy, is important to understanding who they are.
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What makes you you?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What gives a person value?’
Similarly, even people who have known you for a long time may not know the real you. Do you ever feel as if there is a facet of your personality hidden from your friends and family? That there is something you know about yourself that others don’t seem to understand?
If you could control how others saw you, what would you choose to emphasize? What do you wish people knew about you?
Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better? How do you think others see you?
2 thoughts on “What Do You Wish People Knew About You?”
I am a hopeful person.
Hope is the value that pushes me to fight for social, economic, and racial justice as well as to combat humanity’s existential threat in climate change.
I believe hope is an active verb. Passive hope is simply wishful thinking. It’s empty faith. It is delusion.
Let me use two issues to make my point about hope: ending homelessness and building a better food system.
First, my vocation involves working to end homelessness. Yes, I see the stats. I know homelessness has more than quadrupled in Minnesota in just a couple of decades. But I believe ending homelessness is possible because things haven’t always been as bad as they are right now. Homelessness exists because we lack enough housing for everyone who needs it. Many jobs don’t pay a livable wage. And the mainstream ways that many of us get services (e.g., physical and mental healthcare, childcare) don’t work for the poor.
But here’s the deal, America’s acceptable level of poverty has improved over time as it has in many places in the world. But let’s just take a look at America. Child labor is no longer common. Children with swollen bellies from malnutrition are a thing of the past. And, I’ve shared with policy-makers many working — hope-filled — examples of how good, quality housing (sometimes with services), even for the hardest-to-house, is less expensive than the alternative “housing” of emergency rooms, cram-packed shelters, jails/prisons, and make-shift campsites.
Second, our current food system is primarily set up to concentrate wealth while feeding people as cheaply as possible. Our planet is dying, in part, because of an agricultural system that compacts and kills soil, poisons and kills land and pollinators, and severely undervalues people who grow and harvest our fruits and vegetables. Our food system grows bland produce because it transports well, even though we could grow taste-filled food for people who need it in their own community.
But I am convinced that more democratic forms of food production are workable. I see empty lots, grass-covered yards and boulevards, skylines filled with flat roofs, underutilized park lands, wasteful golf courses, and millions of unemployed or underemployed people. And I think there are infinite opportunities to feed hungry or malnourished people as well as hungry birds, bees, and butterflies in a way that would make communities healthy and proud, filled with living soil and nutritious food. To accomplish this, we could teach people how to use their yards sustainably to grow nutritious food for their families. We could also employ people to change how land and flat rooftops could be used differently. We could build more community gardens. And we could give people a sense of what a more democratic food system could look like. I write and share a lot about these possibilities. I also tend an heirloom vegetable garden and take pictures of the plants and produce so as to inspire others to learn a bit about how real food is grown and perhaps sustainably garden themselves.
Change doesn’t just happen. People hope. Then they organize and build.
Yes, I am a hopeful person.
In so many ways I am “just like everyone else” and want to be seen that way. However, also like everyone, I want to be seen as special. This specialness will not necessarily be the same thing in everyone’s eyes, in fact will most likely be many different things according to what each person values and appreciates. One may like the color of my eyes while others find them plain. One may appreciate shyness while others find it boring. My great curiousness, my cooking, my interest in art. I don’t expect one to like everything about me. I don’t even care if they find things they dislike. But I hope they see something, even a small thing, that makes me special. I hope that is not to prideful.