How do we see ourselves?
How do we see others?
How do others see us?
What is not seen?
These are questions that went through my mind in the build up towards a school reunion. It is a little nerve wracking and I do understand why a reunion can be an experience that some avoid. Especially if there are unpleasant memories that are linked to the past.
Being fairly sensitive myself I pondered on how I would be perceived thirty five years on as an adult who had survived the school system and other life experiences. Would it feel the same and would we just slot into our prepubescent roles and relationship dynamics?
I guess the answer is yes and no....
Yes because it may feel safe to slot back in to old relationship patterns in a situation that could cause someone a fair amount of anxiety. No because one has lived a life apart from the foundation of early life experiences; and one has developed a persona that is more complex than that which is captured in the school class photograph.
That image though is how we are remembered, as young and full of hope. The reunion for me was a tiny glimpse back to those days, and I am glad that I had a chance to hold that feeling again, if only for an evening.
The Johari window model is a good way to try and understand group dynamics and relationships. This model was developed in the 1950's and can help people understand their relationship with themselves and others. The idea is that there are four quadrants of awareness.
Open - Attitudes, skills, views known by the self and by others
Blind spot - Information about the self that is known by others but you are unaware of.
Hidden area or facade - Information known to you but is not revealed to others.
Unknown area - Feelings, capabilities, talents that are unaware to you and to others.
The suggestion is that an individual needs to increase the open quadrant, for example with self disclosure or asking for/giving feedback. If the open quadrant is increased then the unknown areas are decreased making group relationships better. This model can sometimes be used in the workplace, to enhance talent and capability. It is not used as a way to criticise other peoples blind spots, or hidden self but to increase confidence in group dynamics, and to bring talents to the surface.
If you would like to read a more detailed description of the Johari window click here
It is said that moving is one of the most stressful experiences in life. I have recently been through this transition and I would have to agree with the consensus that moving is difficult...
With the realisation that one has accumulated too much 'stuff'...
That unshakable feeling that one has left something behind...
To unprocessed feelings around attachment...
How long does it take for someone to become attached to an area, routine, or pace of life come to that?
It is not the first time that I have gone through a big move (what is a big move?). For myself it would be from an urban area to a rural one, and back again in the space of a decade. I have reflected on this process and have come to realise that my body adjusted much quicker than my mind, and I think that this is where the difficulty lies....
If you are going through this it is important to be patient with yourself and to acknowledge that there will be good days and bad days until the mind and body integrate, and wholeness and wellbeing return.
Yes moving home and/or area for that matter is tough. It is also a way of changing how we view the world and ourselves, of pulling us out of the rut that we might be in. As scary as it might be it is also an opportunity to reinvent oneself, to purge if you like. My advice would be to join the local library straight away, they are a wonderful resource.
Try to plan as much as you can in advance; make sure your support network knows you are moving; explore and get to know your knew home. There will be a small window when you might feel on the periphery of the culture, looking in and observing. This can be a little lonely but it also gives you the opportunity to absorb the nuances of your new environment.