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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Robbins

What Do I Know?

Updated: Mar 9

Employing a sense of mindfulness to investigate the limits of what I know, and create a boundary of what I don’t, I found this changes my relationship with all that I relate with. I found that I am generally more curious about the places and people I’m relating with. My knowledge of them is limited to what they’ve directly told me.  In the past, I found myself creating a narrative to fill in the gaps of what I didn't know. This narrative somehow made sense to me. A reason to connect with them or to keep my distance when in truth the narrative in my head was completely false. Yet I made it true for me and I found myself telling it as if it were true. 

Once I realized I was doing this, I took a step back. To see how damaging this behaviour was. To look at someone, and create an entire narrative to explain the person they were without spending the time getting to know the person. Basing this story on how they appear? Creating a narrative based solely on a story I was compiling in my head. 

I don’t like that about myself. 

How do I shift that about myself? What am I doing exactly? What was the purpose of this past behaviour? Is this behaviour problematic, How does it affect my other relationships? What harm was done? and how do I change those behaviours?

I didn’t realize how judgmental I was and having that reflection of myself staring back… I didn’t like the person looking back at me. That I look at people I didn’t know and overlay my idea of who they were before I could get to know them. That I said some of these stories out loud. I can also assume that my fiction wouldn’t stay quiet for long, rumours and others building on the narrative I created. Perhaps I too laid some bricks on the foundations of another story concocted by someone else's. I ask myself why. Why do this? My biggest complaint is that I don’t have many friends and seeing a person I don't know and assuming I would be rejected if I did reach out a hand in friendship. 

It happened in the past, but now it is something I built my reputation on, no wonder that I do find it difficult to connect and make friends. Why would anyone want a friend like me? Someone swimming in pettiness that they would push away any connections before they can become a prospective connection? Create reasons not to be a worthy friend, reject before I could be rejected. Sounds like an impervious defence mechanism if I do say so myself, somehow I’m doing exactly what I set out to do. Keeping people at arm's length and giving others a good reason to do the same with me. 

Realizing that this is the opposite of what I want. How do I change that? 

The best thing I did was to do the opposite. Instead of creating stories, reject any rumours I hear revolving around people. To surrender myself to the thought I know absolutely nothing about them until they tell me. Any other source, no matter how credible, is untrue. I may be able to deduce why a choice is made but I don’t know the reason. I shouldn’t be prying into anyone’s life. Resolving that if I can't ask the question directly to them, that it’s a question best left unasked. 

Realizing that I used my judgments to create a disconnect between me and people. Creating stories instead of inviting the truth. Now when I look and see another person I decide and try to meet them with curiosity. By doing that, I allow myself to be drawn to the person they are, hear their story and learn who they are. I found this to be true when I was having a conversation with my mother. My reflection made me realize how little I know about her. How she grew up and how their experiences and choices had shaped her into the woman I knew her to be. That even created judgments about who I believed her to be. Idealized her and put her high up on a pedestal. I discovered that learning about her and hearing her story from her lips painted her experience so differently from the story I created myself. I wasn’t disappointed, the reality was so much better. From that, I feel it brought us closer, and I understood her better. 

She wasn’t the only person I didn’t know well. I don’t think I know anyone well. Even if I did, I would be holding them to a standard of how they used to be. That isn’t fair to me. People I've known most of my life, and I know so little. Seeing only what is on the surface, when they are icebergs beneath the surface. Interests and experiences there you explore only I didn’t look at, or ask questions. It feels that I have so many missed opportunities to learn about the people I love. Lost time, where I was locked into my self-indulgence when I failed to look up to the faces with me, shining. Not knowing the reasons why they shine, not knowing things that cause them to dance or sing. The fires in them that drive them to do what they do. I might know a little, is that enough? How curious should I be? Is there such a thing as learning too much? What I do know is that I could spend all my life learning about the people I love and I wouldn’t learn everything but it is time well spent.

This is the reason why I traded judgment for curiosity. It serves me so much better. To sit and learn the truth about you and the choices made that shaped you. 

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