I had never considered how important self awareness might be to my writing until just recently.
During a brainstorming session for a new book my thoughts turned to the character dynamics that would really make for a compelling story. I was mixing and matching character traits, genders, background stories and the like when I started to think about my own time growing up.
I had a thought. My own self-image was probably miles away from how people actually perceived me.
I’m not quite sure why that revelation took me so long to get to. After all, I see young people today who clearly have a different idea of who they are than my initial impressions of them. Is it possible that I walked around Junior and Senior High School thinking I was one thing while others thought I was something and someone else?
Of course, it is possible. Even likely. I know I assumed was seen by others a certain way, which coloured how I acted in public. But how different would I be if I’d given any consideration to how others REALLY saw me?
I mentioned initial impressions a few lines ago. How often have you had a first impression of someone that turned out to be very wrong? I know I have. First impressions have led me astray more than once. Only constant exposure to those people made me realize just how wrong I was.
Happily, I was able to get past my misconceptions and really get to know those people, but how often does that happen. What if you hadn’t bothered to get to know someone who might have become a best friend?
The revelation, and it truly was one, has made me rethink a number of the interactions I had in High School. How different could my relationship with some of my classmates been? I know, I had the opportunity to meet a former classmate last summer. She was someone I knew very little about and really had no interaction with in school; we both traveled in extremely different social circles.
My conversation with her was brief; I actually reconnected through her son by complete accident. From what her son told me about her and our quick chat, I realized we had much more in common than I ever expected. Again, how different would things be if we had actually become friends when we were young? Not talking romantically here or anything. Just and subtle adjustment to my own social circle.
I have to say, that entire line of thought has given me pause. It has provided a significant glimpse into how I can make my characters and their stories even more powerful.
All because of delayed self awareness.