This is the one place in the world where I am faceless. Everywhere else I have a face and that says different things about me to different people. I don’t think my face is consistently translated either; it depends on the perception and experience of that particular person. One day I could be one thing, based on the imagination and judgement of my viewer, and the next I can be another. It depends how I behave, what I wear and the role that I play, amongst other things. And a lot of the translation of these will be based on the categories that I am immediately placed into because of the above criteria. 7 seconds, and it is all set! 7 seconds is the length of time it takes to make a first impression.
As a teacher I am used to being mis-imagined in the mind all the time. I am no stranger to it now and have grown to expect my pupils to be shocked at the human details of my life. “What! You have kids?” “Oh my God I saw you in Tesco!” “You can play the piano? Weird!” I am seen as being a professional and not a person. I become my job. I become nothing more than the subject I teach, and a person who does that all day, every day, not having a home or a private life to return to when work is over. I have come to accept this and will even play along now with tales of how I have a whiteboard in my lounge so that I can practise my handwriting etc. And really, it is all well and good that they don’t see any further than they do! Better a whiteboard than a St Andrew’s Cross.
Being put into a box doesn’t only affect my professional life. It happens in my private life too. I am judged based on how I look and the way that I conduct myself. People are continually shocked that I do some of the things that I do and struggle to resolve the things that I enjoy with the picture they have of me in their mind’s eye. My face clearly says one thing, while inside I can be screaming another. But why ask and try to find out? Better just to stick what makes you feel comfortable in your own little world and define me by your own terms, as that feels safe. If I can be something that makes your eyes stretch wide, then clearly others could to. What a threatening concept that would be.
Sometimes the judgements and assumptions grate against me and sometimes I grate against them. I think if someone really sees you, sees your face completely, and has an understanding of the various faces you wear, that can be a highly illuminating thing. I remember when I was first with HL. He made a film of a holiday we had been on. The soundtrack was Alanis Morrisette, “I’m a bitch I’m a lover,” It certainly grated with me and I challenged him, more on the bitch part than on anything else. But I realise that he was right and that he didn’t mean it in a negative way. He had seen me, my many faces: the bitch, the lover, the child, the mother, the sinner, the saint. And do you know what? He was still there. That was why I felt seen and accepted by him.
I think we all wear a variety of faces and we are judged according to the terms and conditions where each is seen. People will decide who and what we are and what we will be like. We can bristle against this or work hard to change it, but it remains, and that is why I like being faceless. I have never had a face here and those of you who have seen it and know what it is like have only seen it after you have got to know me a little and already made up your mind. Does that mean I am taken on face value? Accepted for who and what I am? Or does it mean that my currency is different within this forum? I certainly feel that it is, and as if I have been judged by different criteria than in my other life.
So whatever face value means, I don’t think we can ever really feel that we know who and what people are. We all have different sides and even the most transparent person still has to be known. And to be known intimately like that is hard. I am not sure you can ever really feel that you know the true make up of another person, even though you can know and appreciate their value to you. We all have hidden parts and various masks that we adorn in order to do what we need or want to do. As they always say, it is what is not seen that becomes the most intriguing thing about a person. It is what is left to the imagining.
Being faceless has been good for me and it is not something I want to give up any time soon. Whilst I am happy enough to reveal my face to those of you who I trust, I see no real need. Nor am I motivated to see the faces of you. I don’t need that. I have been able to feel the closest to my authentic self here as I don’t feel the sharp hand of judgement the same as I do in my other world. I feel that I am more easily accepted for being who I am and that who I am becomes a positive without the various categories which people feel the need to use all of the time. Similarity and difference seems to have different criteria here and for some reason the similar box grows without a face and the different box becomes much smaller.
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