Not only do we want most in life to be known, as Aristotle stated 2,400 years ago but to be known authentically, as we are.
This basic human need is why so many religions often spin their message around the idea of being known etc.
What does it mean to be authentically yourself, let alone, known authentically? I do not know who I am really and so I would be a great disappointment to Shakespeare’s Polonius.
I know a few things about myself. I know that I believe I am most authentically me within my inner life – that is my thought life, my secret life. Who I am in the place no one else can know, not because I try to keep people out but because they cannot access this space.
Who I am in the “real world” is a shadow of myself cast upon the wall of the great cave we all live in, to use Plato’s analogy. People know me based on the shadow they see.
Now aside from an accumulation of experience and knowledge, who I am has not changed an iota from who I was at 12, 20, 30, etc. When I look in the mirror who I see is not who I am. I see the vehicle that transports my self.
I have railed against tendencies and axioms to “act your age” etc. because, frankly, this is bullshit. I act who I am. I regret the accumulation of certain sadnesses and traumas but this may be chalked up to the human experience in the Buddhist sense and so I do not lose sleep over it.
With all this in mind I think the older I have gotten the more I have desired to be known authentically. Ironically, despite the fact it may be our greatest desire, we struggle to know people authentically and to be known authentically. We put up walls. I think this is rooted in the great fear that if people truly knew us for who we really are they would run in horror.
And so we create great charades and facades to project an ideal version of ourselves based on what we believe the ideal to be. This ideal is based on advertising, marketing, society, mum and dad etc. We can so buy into it that we can even deceive ourselves into thinking we are what we are not. It is an endless vicious cycle.
I desire to be known, authentically. I desire to know, authentically.