Where I End and Others Begin

In the last couple of months I’ve had the most insightful conversations with the people I love and spend a lot of my social time with. This month, I decided to share a small part of these with you by having two guest posts. The first, today, is by Ciano Maimba – who writes, arranges and composes, teaches voice and shoots macro brilliantly.

“Is it important to you that you define who you are without influence?”, read the text. 

“Not really, it’s important to me to distinguish the two. Because in my head I often feel like I don’t have any solid sense of who I am.” ,  I responded.

This line of conversation has recurred often in my life. Maybe out of my being mutable, or my history of having poor boundaries in relationships, with regard to how much of myself I’ve, in the past, given at my own expense. The latter often informs the former for me. If unchecked, my malleability may lend itself to the harmful internal narrative that I am only deserving of love if I can offer a sense of utility in a given relationship. And so I may aggressively curate the ways I present to suit the needs of the other party(ies)  in the relationship and only catch it when it’s too late. Because at the same time I love adventure; I love trying out new things, I adore the very idea of second chances and new beginnings . But there’s a fine balance to be kept between making room for new experiences in relationship with others and acknowledging the non-negotiable parameters of the interaction that exist for me. A balance that I am struggling to find; that I can give the grace for growth in my interactions and still call out the things I am unwilling to compromise on. 

I am finding it increasingly necessary, therefore, to distinguish what parts of me are inherently me and what parts are reactionary to nature-nurture complexes that have informed my development thus far. Because that seems like the only way I can draw any clear picture of where others, and their influences on me, end, and where I begin. I am also finding it necessary to make these distinctions tangible by speaking about them or writing about them.

As an avid overthinker, my penchant for analytic thought often tends to overshadow my emotional needs where others are concerned. For, while I usually  have an acute sense of what my intuition is telling me at any given time, the harmful inner voices that I harbor are adept at gaslighting me about the impressions I detect from my interactions with others. In free-flowing streams of air-tight logic, clearly outlining why whatever I perceived was all in my head. And because  I can logically conceptualise things more readily than I give myself room to emotionally process, I tend to forgo an opportunity to communicate a boundary when one needs to be communicated. Naturally, this means that I abhor the common resignation to subtext in communicating with people. I am often vexed by how many things people assume we should pick up on from their unsaid words and their failure to acknowledge their biases. I am of the opinion that if it’s not , at the very least, intended to be clear and open; then there’s little to be achieved from communication. 

I feel as though the acknowledgement of one’s biases and the distinction of where one ends and others begin should be a necessary preface to any social interaction. It saves us so much strife to acknowledge where we are and what we care about at any given moment and opens us up to acknowledge where other people are and what things may be important to them, in turn. 

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