I seriously didn’t want to remember them like I did now. I wanted to have some fact that I could associate with them, something that wouldn’t make them a paper person that I could bend whenever I wanted. I knew that my memories would deteriorate someday, and I really didn’t want that to happen. I felt like I was missing something, like my picture of them wasn’t finished. I found a pleasure in knowing things. Knowing what people are like, knowing what they do, just knowing in general.
And here I fooled myself. Because even if I did know every single tiny detail about them, I really wouldn’t know anything. They would become like the houses on the street‒completely flat and emotionless, and I would only associate facts with them. The reason people were even human was because they surprised you.
-Excerpt from a story I wrote in 8th grade (Talk about repetitive use of the word “I” .)
Ever since middle school, I’ve had this fear of never being able to “know” someone completely. My perception of a person could only be based off the show they put on to society, which was an inaccurate depiction, as proven by my own introspective behavior.
Especially among people I looked up to but barely knew, my mental pictures were often built up from a few distinguishing memories that I had somehow gleaned from their lives. These images would constantly circulate in my head, leading to absolutely no progress how I perceived them.
The end of 7th grade was particularly depressing. Although I only knew a few people in the 8th grade class, the thought of more than 100 people leaving the school scared me. How could such a large group of people who I saw nearly every day suddenly just…disappear? The last few days of that year , I tried to soak in as many details about the graduating class as possible, but I wasn’t sure what exactly to notice. Were their personalities more important than their appearance? What about their friend groups? Grades? Random details that I picked up from glimpses in the hallways?
I was going full stalker on some of these people, but I didn’t particularly care. Even if I understood them completely as they left middle school, they would still change throughout high school and the rest of their lives. All my observations would only offer a single snapshot of their lives, not the full narrative.
At this point, I was ready to give up. Would this quest of trying to understand humanity ever end?
Now in high school, I have a different variation of this problem. At a place that’s literally 10 times bigger than my middle school, the problem’s not with stalking people that I barely know; it’s about keeping track of the ones I actually know. Every time I talk to someone that I’ve lost touch with, even briefly, thoughts about how they’ve changed and what’s been going on in their lives that I don’t know about constantly whir through my head.
Eventually, I’m going to have to concede that I’m never going to know everything that’s going on. And honestly, that’s a little depressing. [Loop back to beginning of post.]