"When the questioner seeks to be impressed and the questioned seeks to be approved, how then do we both get to know who we really are?"- Doyin
I have often wondered why we need to be seen as 'doing' to have a good, fun day, and why we find it hard to accept simply 'being' as having a good day. From the various interactions I've had, I realize that the way a person reacts when being told by the other party, how their day was, speaks volumes; about the questioner, their preconceived impressions and expectations, and also, what can be expected from further interaction with them, down the line.
I have also wondered why we constantly need to qualify for others, what they should term as enjoyable or interesting. In many instances, I see that it really is about us trying to make the other person's reality all about us. (I hope that makes sense) And so, right from the moment we begin interacting, we instantly program ourselves to judge rather than understand, sometimes unintentionally.
A common instance this is found, is when people ask us how we spend our days/time. For most normal people who live normal lives, the honest answers most likely would be what they do in the normal bump and grind of life. Wake, eat, study, work, sleep, internet, nap, game, facebook, music, read, chat, movies.... *insert other activities* Why then is it that these honest answers are almost instantly met with expressions such as "boring!" "haba, don't you have a life?" "so is this what you do everyday?".... or variants of these responses from the questioners?
While it is easy to react with seething anger and lash out at how presumptuous or judgmental the questioner is being, for me, I realize that it is futile, trying to convince the questioner about the 'goodness' of my day and how my day suits me just fine. The bigger questions to be asked then are: "why bother asking when you expect the answers given to mirror what YOU do for fun?" or alternatively, "How about you answer the question yourself, and input what you want to hear?"
Perhaps its our false assumptions or expectations that other people have mega-exciting lives. Perhaps, we are so enthralled when we meet others, that we imagine that their lives are radically different from ours. We expect a lot from them and then, feel thoroughly let down to realize their lives are pretty much 'normal'. If we were honestly, honestly to ponder about it though, shouldn't we be suspect of the 'normal' person who answers that he/she went skydiving and bungee jumping on Monday, clubbed with A-list celebs on Tuesday, hosted a champagne themed house party on Wednesday, dined at a Michelin starred restaurant on Thursday, travelled three cites between Friday and Saturday, and then gives variants of this exotic lifestyle every single time they are asked.
Sure, they would elicit adulation and wide-eyed 'wows!' from the questioners. In many cases, if we answer in a similar fashion, awe at the 'exciting' lives we are presumed to lead. Really though, to what extent do we want to or have to polish our stories to elicit approval? To receive affirmation? Besides, why exactly, should we constantly feel the urge to prove ourselves to people who in the grand scheme of things, play no parts in our lives, save for the brief, fleeting minutes that we meet?
Methinks there is a temptation to mask who we truly are, and present a false version of ourselves because we are aware that even basic human interactions and the most basic of questions are judged from the get go.
The expectations and judgements we place on others breed dishonesty and lies. Little wonder after the initial dance around and acceptance because a person's replies fit into our reality, when we get to know them better we become hugely disappointed. Eventually, it does both parties no favours. When the questioner seeks to be impressed and the questioned seeks to be approved, how then do we both get to know who we really are?
So, how about we accept the other party's simply 'being' as a valid answer to the question "how do you spend your day?" How about that?