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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Distinguishing Characteristics

I often wonder what distinguishes me from everyone else. I was talking to a friend the other night and he mentioned a particular physical feature of mine that is different from the vast majority of people he knows. (No, I will not disclose what feature I am referring to.) I responded by saying that I don't really feel like I am distinguished from others based on such a feature, that I feel my differences are much more internally based than external. It got me to thinking. The argument that I wanted to make was that if someone had only one arm, no one would define them based on that physical characteristic, but unfortunately, that just isn't true. Unfortunately, everyone defines them based on such a physical characteristic. People do it with features that are less distinctive also. How often do you hear things like, "the red-head," or "that tall guy?" I recall my boss one time sending me upstairs to get something and telling the people I was heading towards that I was a "cute, little, short girl." I guess it makes sense. The physical is the easiest thing to see. But it is funny to me also, because I know that there are times when I try to recall the face of someone I know well, and I couldn't tell you whether they wear glasses or not, or what color their eyes are, or whether they have a large nose. I sometimes have to force myself to pay attention to details like this, or I just don't notice them. But the truth is, it is usually the people I know the best whose physical characteristics I notice the least. I think this is because the people that I have gotten to know well, I do think of them as whole people, with personality, and passions, and eccentricities. I have taken the time to know them inside and out, and it is the inside that I have really connected with, and that stands out to me. After a while, I don't need to know what they look like, it is what is inside them that bonds me to them. Because without what is inside, I wouldn't have the relationship, I wouldn't really know them. So then I wonder what distinguishes me to those who know me best. I hope it is for my compassion and caring. For the fact that my friends know I will take care of them and do whatever I can, whenever I can. That I always offer a listening, non-judgmental ear when they need it. I think I distinguish myself because I don't care what other people think, that I don't care whether I am doing what everyone else is doing; I do what I care about and feel is right. That I hold myself to a very high standard in terms of interacting with others and treating other people, no matter who they are, with respect. That I truly do try to give the benefit of the doubt. I wish I could wear these latter features externally. That everyone could see my virtues, rather than my hair style or eye color (or other features that seem to stand out to some). And I wish I could see everyone else's from the beginning, that it didn't take time to figure people out. Because I don't want to define them based on outward appearance, I want to see the inside. Because that's what really distinguishes a person.


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