While thinking about a topic for what I want to write, I came up with the word “perceptions”. That word is too deep for a mere rant. So I’ll have two parts to this post. Part 1 is a rant concerning a friend, and part 2 will be more about people generally.
Part 1 – The Rant
I doubt anybody actually follows this blog, but you do you’ll notice how many posts I’ve written about The Best Friend. All the things he’s said which are insensitive or down right rude.
A few minutes ago I was watching 7de Laan, an Afrikaans soapie. It is actually getting good, something which hasn’t happened in a decade. While I watched I got a message from The Best Friend telling me that he has a female friend which is a pagan and that she worships the goddess (or is it god?) named Nyx.
Now paganism is not my thing – yet. At the moment I’m delving into ancient Greek religion. Only after I’ve mastered that and gained an understanding of other ancient religions will I give more thought to paganism. But I know G. K. Chesterton in numerous books, specifically The Everlasting Man, talked about how paganism is a corruption of mythology. Unfortunately I have weak ability to remember things I’ve read.
But anyway, I didn’t know. So he said that Nyx is the goddess of the night. Oh, Night. That beautiful, deceptive, yet peaceful time of day. One Greek goddess (whose name I forgot [I told you I have a weak memory]) is also associated with the night. Being both beautiful and promiscuous.
You may have realised how I keep delving off point here. I don’t mind. I just want to speak my thoughts. I always associate seemingly unrelated things with a topic at hand.
Then I asked him, “How do you meet such weird people?”.
He answered: “Do you really want to know?”
“I come out of my house.”
Now here comes the topic of this post into context: perceptions. This best friend of mine has a very limited view of my life. In fact, I know this sounds a bit arrogant, but no one knows the whole part of me. I feel as though I’m some 8-sided, multidimensional being and everyone only ever sees one side.
Let me give a few examples. The other best friend – the “Braai Friend” – frequently played video games with me online during weeknights. What he doesn’t know is that I only played to spend some social time with him. That I consider it a necessary – though admittedly fun and somewhat addictive – waste of time which I’m willing to sacrifice to spend some time with him. Yet in his mind he believes I am a frequent gamer. The sad part is that this is, in a way, a self-fulfilling belief: playing games with him does make me more interested in games. That’s why today – after weeks, after spending time with him and the Best Friend playing games during the weekend, I played a bit of CS: GO by myself. Do you see the thing here? He thinks I am what I am not.
The second example: the best female friend I got, on the blog I call her The Precious Friend, is a more emotional being. Because of that I tend to be more emotional with her. To talk about people and problems and deep Christian ideals – though never intellectually. Our conversations always have a tinge of sincerity and… emotion. She in turn sees my more caring part and assumes that I do not like to go to a club or a party or whatnot. Now this is slightly true: I do not like to be in the presence of too many strangers. Yet I LOVE going out with my friends to chat or see a movie or whatever. A part of me NEEDS it. So she almost never invites me. She doesn’t get the whole part of me.
Yet another example: my best friend on Campus… what shall I call him here?… David. I’ll just call him David. He is an extrovert and an extremely friendly guy. Yet he is way more emotional than I am and in some aspects he is slightly more childish, especially around his parents, yet he is more grown up than I am when it comes to engaging the world (he is currently doing kickboxing and tutoring and going to parties and who knows what else). He, in turn, thinks I love to go out and meet strangers and socialise. Yet again, slightly true. I like to go out, but like I said the “strangers” part bothers me. He also only catches one side of me – a true side, but not the whole of me.
I suppose I am to blame for all of this. I tend to try to accommodate people to such a degree that they think me very much like them, and they fail to try to REALLY get to know me because they think they already do.
With this in mind I will get back to the conversation with the True Friend. He is an extremely complicated person who is also extremely predictable.
There are two parts to him: Who he IS, and who he THINKS he is. You may think it unfair of me to assume that I know him better than he knows himself. Perhaps. But for this post I’ll assume I know him better than he knows himself. Perhaps I’m arrogant and wrong, or perhaps I have a sense of judging people and I am right. Who knows?
Who he is
He is the kind of guy with an above normal intelligence when it comes to questioning dogmas like feminism and atheism and “normal” people behaviour. But he won’t assume the same skepticism of his own beliefs. He is the kind of guy that really cares for a girl and likes love songs, but also frequently thinks and talks about sex. I remember when he met The Precious Friend (who is also a devout believer in Christ) he talked about sex positions. I mean come on. He is the kind of guy which is friendly and will offer you coffee or cook for you. He will watch scary YouTube videos with you, or feminist cringe compilations or funny stuff.
I’ll use his weekly routine to make his character clearer: During the week he and I stay at a flat in Pretoria which is kinda a student residence. In the morning he will drive early to class. From what I’ve heard, there he chats with two friends and he might go somewhere with them during the day. When he comes back he immediately switches on his computer whereafter he will begin to play DOTA or other games until he either goes to sleep or goes on YouTube. This is important: he plays games A LOT.
I have to throw something about myself in here again. So many times I’ve wished we could go out. You see I don’t have a car and public transport is non-existent to so I’m stuck with him. So many times I’ve wanted to go eat at this pizza shop nearby, or go to that huge mall to watch a film or go eat something, to perhaps visit a museum. For months I’ve thought about how I would join a tennis or table-tennis club. I would go out and pick up David or The Precious Friend and just go somewhere.
While I’m stuck at the flat I try to utilise my time. “Using time effectively” in my definition means gaining new knowledge. So I would either watch debates on Christianity or immigration or whatever, or I would read and read and read. I would read books by G. K. Chesterton or C. S. Lewis or classical books like The Iliad and Dostoevsky. In my eyes playing games by yourself is an extreme waste of time. I’m not against it. It really is fun. I just feel as though I am called upon to use this precious few years at university to gain knowledge so I can become someone.
So my friend isn’t someone to just spontaneously go out, even though he can be extremely sociable.
You might think I am unfair for only accounting for what happens during the week and not the weekend. You would be wrong. This weekend I spend a while and a night there along with him and the Braai Friend. There we… played games. CS: GO, Star Wars, DOTA, League of Legends, etc. We did go out to get a pizza and we watched a part of Brother Bear. Besides that there was this one moment when they wanted to jump into the pool – even though it is winter. But really, the games are the main focus. How I wished we could go to the mall and watch a movie! Especially Lights Out! Hell, I like it if the three of us are at some place with some mission, especially at night.
And this isn’t just a once off thing. The Braai Friend, with the exception of last week, visited him for the last 5 weekends. Furthermore, from what I’ve heard, things are usually the same each weekend. His mother provides the food and never bothers him. The only thing which sometimes interrupts him is his dad who might want him to throw away the trash at a garbage dump or to help him in the garden.
Throw in his family’s high middle-class/low high-class financial position and you get a very comfortable life.
Who He Thinks He Is
Who he think he is, is a lot different to who he is. He sees himself as outgoing. Someone who likes to attend parties and to meet new people. Someone who will play a fool at a beach by playing games or chatting up girls or doing crazy things. Yet at the same time he wants to be a “mysterious, silent” type of guy. To give him credit he can be sociable if he wants to be and he can be crazy in the presence of the Braai Friend. But he’s also much calmer and more intellectually deeper around me; we often discuss deeper things in life.
Last year gave two good examples. The first was when I went with him to what is a dam but also a sort of resort. There we went on the boat or swam or fished. I remember how lazy he was in the morning. I wanted to go for walks around the resort, but he would prefer to play pokemon on his gameboy. During the day, and especially at night, his younger brother and I would want to go swim at the swimming pools where there are other people and ice cream and life, but he wouldn’t be in the mood. Don’t get me wrong: we swam a lot. My point is that I wanted to “go out” way more than he did.
A week later we went to Margate, a famous holiday beach destination during the summer. But this time he came with my family. Once again, he would sleep until very late – once he slept until 1PM. Then we would walk a short distance on the rocks or walk to the Margate beach. At the latter place he was frequently the first one to want to go back. When we did, he would sit the whole time and watch professional DOTA players on YouTube on his cellphone.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I still enjoyed it immensely. It was great to have him there, especially when we went for walks at night. I also miss watching a scary movie on the laptop with at that place. My point is the same as the first one: I wanted to get out more often than he did.
After these two vacations I realised that I am not the “boring” guy they always make me out to be. If anyone is dead, they are.
Finally I come back to that conversation on the goddess girl where he said: “I come out of my house”. Do you understand it now? He, and the Braai Friend (and I’ll get to his hypocrisy on this subject another day) still see me as the one who doesn’t like to go out. Who doesn’t like to have fun. Who reads all the time (although I struggle to read a book in two weeks). Who doesn’t like parties or eating out. In this aspect I can only say: they are me and I am them.
During the week when he leaves I am usually still sleeping. When he comes back I am reading a book. He does not see the part of me going to campus, having political discussions with this friend who became an atheist. He doesn’t see how I’m watching these debates about God’s existence so I can save that friend’s soul. He doesn’t see me chatting with the Precious Friend about life and death and emotion. He doesn’t know about how David and I would go eat a pizza at this place or go have a coffee at that one.
All he sees is a guy reading – at the flat – the whole time. Perceptions.
In answer to his message: “I come out of my house”, I replied:
He didn’t answer for a while after I said that, but while I was writing this post I got a reply:
Yes, of course you do. Of course you do. Just keep on believing that. Keep on confusing the man you are and the one you think you are. Maybe in Part 2 I’ll give my reasons for why he believes he is someone he is not and why he keeps on believing I am who I am not.
P. S. I know the normal reader will, after reading this post, yell out to me “Hypocrite! You complain about your friends having the wrong perception of you, yet you only have YOUR perceptions to go by!“. I understand. I do. You are right. The difference is merely that, unless I’m delusional (and I very well could be), I am right and they are wrong, because I am constantly aware of what they do and what they say while they are not even aware of themselves.
But yeah, perhaps it’s just my perceptions.