How we relate to others is who we are, in a way. Much as we like to think there’s a real me inside, and maybe there is, what we actually do is what everyone else sees. I mean, it might not be who we’re trying to be, but if who we are is made up of the sum total of our actions, and our actions towards others make up the state of our relationships, then in some way who we are is tied up with how we relate….
For example, you can’t really claim to be a generous person if you don’t give things to people. You’re not really an encouraging person if you don’t actually encourage people. I always thought I was encouraging because I liked the idea of being encouraging, but it turns out that my natural state is to pick at mistakes and not give positive feedback very well. So maybe I’m really not – or maybe I need to work on making my actions match my intent.
So who you really are might be buried inside you, but who you are being is all about your outward actions. Be careful of this when you think about discovering who you are – and make sure you’re also doing work on how that translates from you out to everyone else.
Another way that you are your relationships is that they will affect how people talk about you to other people – yes, people talk about you just like you talk about them. And ‘who you are’ is a bit about who people see you as being, how you’re remembered. How you relate to people is how people talk about you to other people. If you’re really nice inside but struggle to show it, people won’t see it and will certainly not tell others how nice you are. So make sure that you treat people well.
Finally, the relationships you have end up defining how you behave. In order to fit in with your closest friends, you modify your behaviour in lots of little ways, meaning that if you want to grow in a particular area, choosing who you hang out with accordingly can help.
Ultimately, life is more about people than it is about us having isolated experiences. And so, relationships matter. And we need to work on them. Yes, even introverts. Sorry!