After a busy day last week of various activities and intense focus, I walked through the local Mall with my husband, thinking about the variety of 'sights' you see in a public place.
'People watching' use to be a main pastime of mine, one I have come to realize was closely related to my search for 'self', and my need to determine who I was going to be. OK, I know that none of us can determine who we are going to be, but I never realized that until I stopped trying to do just that.
I grew up, given a very clear description of who I was 'supposed' to be, and from a very early age, knowing I did NOT want that, I began the search for who I wanted to be. I became very self-critical, always second-guessing my own words and decisions, because I feared criticism from others. Internal criticism became my only way to prevent myself from doing things 'wrong', or so I thought. I was actually tearing myself down, bit by bit, while simply trying to survive.
As my efforts to 'control' myself began to morph into a full blown eating disorder, my fascination with watching other people became more intense and obsessive in nature. I was hyper-vigilant in my focus on other people.
Everywhere I went, I needed to SEE everyone in my scope of vision, and often beyond. My focus was on weight, mood, dress and general appearance. I compared myself in each of these aspects, always seeking who I wanted to be, what I wanted to look like, and most of all, what weight I 'should' weigh. Yes, I watched people, but not for recreation. I watched them to compare, to take mental notes which might somehow lead to ME.
As you can imagine, I never found anyone who I could make myself into. I certainly tried. I continued to seek that 'perfect' description, the one that would finally fit. It almost killed me. I could not become someone else, and I had no idea how to be ME.
So, last week, as Dave and I commented about a couple of 'interesting' people we happened upon, I reflected on how little I take time to watch other people now. More than that, I realized I have no need to examine others to discover myself. I no longer compare the size of my legs or my body in general, to every woman I see. What I order for dinner is not determined after some complex calculation of what every other woman in the restaurant is eating.
I do truly love people, getting to know them and sharing experiences along life's way.
But, my need and desire to be around others is based on my daily pursuit of life, not a fervent pursuit of my identity.