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Posted by james on April 24, 2001

It strikes me that people need to be free to talk in order to be free to be themselves. Through the different sorts of people I've come into contact with recently, I've become more and more aware of the differences people have. One of those differences is in speech; not simple superficial things like how large a vocabulary a person uses, or if they speak fast / slow / other. More like the ideas and thoughts behind what a person says, and the reasons behind the methods they use to say things.

I was thinking about how I interact with people I don't know very well. If I don't feel comfortable in a group usually I'll be more quiet and less like myself. I don't feel as comfortable to be a person with flaws exposed, where I don't have to worry about my actions and words being given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to possibly ambiguous inuendos (not sexual innuendos, just any kind). I don't feel comfortable to make as many jokes, trip on as many objects, say things quite as loud, or say things that I know are risky. Most risky things for me to say involve simply pushing the limits of what you know a specific person is comfortable with. Once you've pushed those limits you know where a person stands, and what they're comfortable with. But when I'm uncomfortable with a situation, I don't do this; I even back off more.

There are ways that I've seen people act this way even in the most comfortable of environments, with their close friends. Either in action or speech, they do things that convey that even in this safe environment they're still on guard, like a rabit that never quite relaxes when it's in the open meadow. One possible reason is that they're uncomfortable with themselves. After all, you never quite escape yourself, even in the most comfortable situations. Another reason could be trust... even with close friends, there's still something that doesn't allow them to trust anyone completely. I don't know the reasons, I don't even know if I'm close. But I do think that whatever the reason, when a person doesn't feel free to act and talk, then they can't really be free to be themselves. And that's poor, because if they never can get past that I'll never see what they are. Plus, maybe they'll never see it either.