Around five months back I met one of my old friends after a long while. Friends as in, we were what you could call “best buddies” right from kindergarten till high school. After that we went our different ways, didn’t stay too much in touch and had met him just once or twice in the past 6 years before the above encounter. Well, he has this habit of not being in touch for a long time, precisely in intervals of six months according to him, and then pop out of nowhere. Seeing someone you knew pretty well, after a long time lets you feel all the striking changes that has happened to her/him. And I could see a lot of drastic changes in him, physically and mentally.
Well this came up during that long conversation over coffee that day. He had this notion that when you get away from people who know you well, you change much more than what you want yourself to change. And this guy was doing law school in Calcutta, far away from people who knew him too much. And boy did he change! Anyway I didn’t give it too much thought, as it was just an obvious thing. But now I was just thinking about this. It’s so true the other way round too. If too many people are around you who know you too much, its difficult to change, even if you badly want to. Admitted, I have changed a lot from those days in school, but that is just the natural change with age and experience. Nothing has radically changed with me, and as he put it I am that same old Loyolite he said bye to 6 years back, just that my mustache got thicker.
So many things depend on people around us, how we want them to perceive us. May not be true with everyone, but I think this is the case with every common Joe around us. Well I have been fortunate or unfortunate (depending on how I want to see myself everyday I look into the mirror ;) ) that I have been surrounded by people whom I know well wherever I have been. Even in college there were a bunch of guys who were my schoolmates, who brushed off their knowledge about me to my other peers. You sort of get into a fixed “wire-frame” after that. You feel weird yourself, when you try something different, behave someway different because people expect you to fit into that wire-frame. And when pieces don’t fit in, it tends to be “Why is he doing that?” which translates to “Why am I doing this?”. I don’t know, I have been experiencing this phenomenon forever. Let’s see, even after I took up my job, the two people who sit right next to me are my college mates. They in turn have brushed off some info about me, involuntarily to my colleagues. And again the “wire-frame” is in place. Then I went on to live for a while in Germany, there too were more than a couple of colleagues, who were really much more than colleagues to me, to fix that wire-frame on me.
Not that everything depends on what others think of you, but the effort needed to make a change in this scenario is much much more. And also not that I hate being surrounded by people who I am close to me. Well yeah, I take back the word “unfortunate” that I said previously. I feel I am really lucky that there are these people who help me cushion my transitions. But on the other hand, in my friend’s case, having nobody around let him do a total restart, let him do things differently, because nobody cared a damn and because nobody knew what he was before. But it’s like I am living up to the wire-frame, unable to wiggle out of it. It’s like the frame is moulding me.
Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s bad, only time can tell.