Monday, May 19, 2008

A Moment of Understanding

In the past two weeks I have read the Madeleine L'Engle classics, A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I had never read them before and really didn't know what to expect. Now I am eager to read them again! I read them quickly, but had to pause a few times to let things sink in. One of those was sort of a light-bulb moment for me.

This exchange occurs between two of the main characters in A Wind in the Door. Meg is a very awkward high-school student - unattractive, extremely smart and people make no bones about thinking she is strange. Mr. Jenkins is the local school principal - very unlikeable, does not like those who are different and has a constant battle of the wills with Meg.
"Meg felt a flash of intuition as sharp and brilliant as the cherubim's flame; like flame, it burned. 'Oh, Mr. Jenkins, don't you see? Every time I was in your office, being awful and hating you, I was really hating myself more than you.' ... Mr. Jenkins responded in a strange voice she had never heard from him before, completely unlike his usual, nasal, shrill asperity. 'We both do, don't we, Margaret? When I thought your parents were looking down on me, I was really looking down on myself. But I don't see any other way to look at myself.' "
I don't think I've heard anyone put it quite that way before, but I think it's true that some of the negative opinions we think others have of us are simply the negative opinions that we have of ourselves. Now I am trying to stop and ask myself, "Do I have any valid indication that this person thinks ______ about me? Or is that what I assume they must think because deep down, it's what I think of myself?"

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this.