I Know You, But I Don’t Know You

If seventeen year old me were to tell somebody, “I’ve known John since I was two,” is that enough to say that I actually do know him?

Here’s the situation.  I’ve been studying at this for fourteen years (since kindergarten, which is…long): to put it another way, I’ve welcomed new classmates come in, watched old classmates go, surpassed three principals…that’s why people expect me to know not only everything, but also everyone.  Everyone, meaning everyone who’s in, and everyone who’s left.  Fair enough, but no.

Especially for the past six years, I’ve passed by the same faces day after day.  We’re a pretty small student body of roughly five hundred or so (excluding the teachers, but that’s a different story), and we do talk from time to time.  Homework, life, school issues, Pokemon…I guess there are a myriad things we could talk about.  Then again, it’s never anything particularly profound.

Being a senior, I’m expected to be able to communicate “across the levels” and give “useful” advise to my juniors.  Fine, I do.  So what?  Even then, I didn’t know that A was dating B, or that C was actually suicidal, or X has family problems.  Despite having to give advise, there’s really no advise to give that can even remotely help them for relevant issues.  I respect the privacy, and that’s not the point.  The point is: despite seeing these people day in and day out, with the same routine on near-permanent repeat, why is it that when I saw this kid Dan, a junior, walk in today with one of my classmates for the x number of times in my life, I felt like I was seeing a stranger.

It’s not just Dan; it’s everyone.  Virtually every single person in this school.  Naturally, I’d feel like the classmates I don’t typically associate with are strangers to some regard: we don’t know each other’s interests, habits, grades…I’ll bet they don’t know my Chinese name as much as I’ll know how well they speak French.  Poor analogy, but moving on.  But when it comes to my own friends, I still feel like I don’t know them.  Sure, I feel comfortable when I’m with them because I do somewhat blend in pretty well with their sense of humour, among other reasons other than our academic interests, but how much do I really know?  There are things that we all don’t want to know about each other, but is that a convenient enough reason to make us strangers when we’re friends?  I may know Andrew’s name is Andrew, or Jay wants to be a pilot, or Yu has two siblings, or K’s father left her family.

Do I even know these people?

I don’t know if it’s just a part of me that’s distorting these familiar faces into alien images, or if it’s some psychological thing (I should stop) that occurs in all humans to know but not know somebody.  Maybe it’s because I’ve seen these faces for such a long time that they look strange and unreal, much like how when I repeat a word makes that same word sound wrong.  It shouldn’t really be a problem, or should it?  It may seem weird to say this, but I often feel like there’s no point holding back and trying to figure these people out.  Boycotting graduation sounds nice but inconsiderate, so that’s off the list; disappearing forever is something else.  Point is, do I really just not know these people, or is it just a sign that I’m jaded and I should be moving on?

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4 thoughts on “I Know You, But I Don’t Know You

  1. It’s me again, your posts are truly some good bedtime reads.

    As for a reply.

    I can deeply relate. So can Shakespeare
    “All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players.
    They have their exits and their entrances,
    And one man in his time plays many parts…”

    Aren’t we all just well co-ordinated actors that just so happen to be auditioned in the same play.

    Our acquaintances, nothing but other actors that is scripted to respond to our lines. Those in solitude, aren’t they just actors pronouncing a soliloquy?

    I don’t know you.

    1. Thanks for the comment and support; will really need to come up with a good reply to this one.

      And the suspense is killing me, not knowing who this is haha. (It’s cool to have Kierkegaard comment nonetheless…)

  2. Do we ever really know anyone? I mean, I can’t even say I know myself; how could I expect to know anyone else?

    I think you just know some people more than others. As for whether you say you know that person… it’s about context. If you’re in a professional context, you can say you ‘know’ acquaintances. If you’re talking about friends, ‘knowing’ might imply a deeper understanding of the other person.

    The thing is, you know bits and pieces of people. You follow my blog, so you see a side of me that very few people actually see. There are things you don’t know about me. Most of those things are unimportant. You’ll never know everything about me, because it would take too many lifetimes to fully know me. But you know more about me than a lot of people do, so… is that enough? You can’t expect to know everything about anyone.

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