Strangers | Teen Ink


January 21, 2009
By Anonymous

Am I stressed about being a stranger to myself? Maybe sometimes, but for the most part, I am content with what I do and don't know about myself. In a sea of people who are putting up an act, who are keeping deep secrets, and who are in a constant state of self-doubt, maybe I stick out, or maybe I don't. Does it matter what I think?

Here's the thing that boggles me: the fact that very few people know who I am. The majority of the world has absolutely no idea of my existence, and even those who read this and yet still have never met me only think of me as just another human among billions with something to say. I'm nobody to the planet. Most people probably feel this way. Whenever I watch TV, I wonder about the people on commercials and reality shows. How do they act around their friends? What are their views, religiously and politically?

But the weirdest thing about it is that people who I experience -for lack of a better word - from day to day don't really mean anything to me. They're just walking flesh with cloth hanging from their limbs, and even though I probably walk past them every day, I hardly notice them. When a person becomes a crowd, they blend in, no matter who they are. When there's only one stranger in a room, they are no longer a stranger. Their presence is deafening: I can hear their breathing in the awkward silence and know that they are gazing off into space, thinking about their lives just as I am. I know what I'm thinking. But there are so many things they could be thinking about. This stranger becomes the center of my attention, and I'm probably the center of theirs, and he or she is probably wondering about me too. But how could they? I'm OBVIOUSLY me!! Can't you see that?

But I know they can't. I know that in a crowd, I'm only a blurred face. Nobody knows that I am feeling. They can't prove it. They just assume that I am real. Let me rephrase that: they just assume we, the crowd, are real. They assume nothing about singular, outlandish me. Truthfully, I'm not so outlandish.

When you're driving or riding in a car and looking out the window at the passing vehicles on the freeway, what are they to you? Just moving pieces of metal going from point A to point B? Do you ever realise that inside each of these vehicles is a person or two with an entire life and family and set of personal complications? Do you ever wonder about how they feel about the music that is inevitably playing inside their car, about who they're on their way to visit, about what their purpose for being on the same road as you is?

Even though the majority of people I see in my lifetime are strange to me, I always know that they are who they are. I never want to devalue them and see them as less than what they probably are. I can't know absolutely for sure - nobody can - but I'm going to assume that they can be sad, they can be overjoyed, they can feel terrible about themselves, they are going through a rough time, their lives are outstanding. I'm going to assume that however different their values and views are from mine, when it comes down to it, we're all humans and we all have to learn to live with each other. We're not really all that different. We all have our reasons for trying to over exaggerate our accomplishments and minimize our faults.

We need to stop dehumanizing each other and learn that we're all susceptible to harsh criticism and appreciative to kindly charity. Is the woman who had an affair with your husband really just a home wrecker? Or did she fall helplessly in love with an unavailable man and felt almost as terrible as you did? Is the man who robbed the corner store really a violent scumbag? Or was he just in a desperate financial situation and only doing what he felt was the only thing left to do?

I have no idea who you are. And you have no idea who I am. But if I swore to you that I have my reasons for doing what I do and feel about them as anybody else would, would that make me less strange to you?

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