Recently I overheard someone proudly say, “My grandma was known for making the best apple cobbler in the county.”
That got me thinking. Is everybody known for something? I believe they are, at least to the people who love them most. I’ve heard people described as the type that would give you the shirt off his back, or the strongest person I’ve ever met, or, on the opposite extreme, a massive jerk.
Do we know how people truly think of us, or how we are described by others? Well, I certainly don’t. So I decided to ask. I reached out to about two dozen friends and loved ones, and posed this question:
If everyone is known for something, what do you think I’m known for?
I decided to keep it that simple, and only elaborate if someone asked for clarification.
Most didn’t bother to respond. That disappointed me greatly, but that’s typical with any type of survey, formal or informal. Even that taught me a little bit about who will actually step up for me, or at the very least, who lacks concentration and/or is epically busy.
Of those that did respond, many came back with the easy, surface stuff. I’m known for being a bridgetender and a writer. Those who aren’t in touch with me as often mentioned that I’m known for being a fractal artist, even though I haven’t made a fractal in years.
Those were legitimate responses, and nothing to be ashamed of. But it made me realize how important it is to properly frame your question. What I was hoping for, really, was not what I’m known for by people in general, but how would you describe me to others? What has been your personal experience with me? What makes me unique in your eyes?
But there were those who delved deeper. One smart aleck said, “Epic farts.” But even he got more serious and went into more detail after a little bit of prompting. Here were some of the responses I received:
Supporting someone in need.
Makes me laugh.
You’re unique. A fair amount of women I just can’t “talk” to.
You mean what you say. You tell it like it is.
An advocate for those you feel have no voice.
Brave, independent woman who takes no nonsense from nobody and loves her husband and dogs and job.
You care about right and wrong so much that your blood boils when you see what you believe is unjust.
Delivering your opinion in a most enlightening way.
You are adventuristic. A ‘seize the moment’ sort of person.
You appreciate the now.
Heart to heart sharings of intimate fears.
Your ineffable sexiness (this one made me blink, and blush.)
Compassion for animals.
Patience and persistence in pursuit of making a good life for yourself.
Reverence for the use of language to convey your insights.
Wow. Just… wow. These were wonderful observations. They certainly made me proud. They humbled me. Some of them were extremely unexpected. But I’ll take it.
This experiment also taught me a lot about how different my inner self is from my outer self. The two ways I’d describe myself were not mentioned by anyone. I would think that I’d be known for my intelligence and the fact that I have no filter whatsoever. But maybe I see myself that way because I use the intelligence as a suit of armor to hide behind, and I spend a great deal of time doing damage control for my lack of filter.
The bottom line is that I’m really glad I asked this question. I would recommend that everyone try this with their loved ones. The education you get from it, in ways both predictable and unexpected, is priceless.