I sent an email to an old acquaintance today and began it with the phrase, “I don’t know if you remember me but…” The rest of the email was irrelevant because that sentence plagued me for the rest of the day. I was frustrated at myself for beginning a correspondence in such an insecure way. I imagined every social behavior coach would shake their heads and tsk-tsk at me. I didn’t confess to Google (yet) but I imagine the Internet will yell at me.
I remember almost everyone I meet, down to the moles on their face. My husband similarly remembers classmates from preschool. Ten years after college, my husband’s serious high school girlfriend called him and left a message which began with, “I don’t know if you remember me but …” NOW THAT’S CRAZY! How can he not remember his first love, his prom date, his first heartbreak? My email was just to a mother of my son’s old schoolmate. Admittedly I didn’t give any thought to my negatively-slanted introduction until her reply to me began with “OF COURSE I REMEMBER YOU!!!”
This sent me on a thought process. Am I memorable? Do I stand out from the crowd or blend into the background? Here I am spewing words daily, doling out advice on relationships, parenting, and life like a maven but are my words valuable? Is anything I’ve said worthy of remembering?
Others have told me I have a “bold” personality and I gather it’s because I have no qualms about saying things like, “Oh no, you can’t do that…” or “Oh you don’t have to take that…” or “I have a better way to do it!” My commentary is often a knee-jerk reaction, though genuinely spoken from a place of empathy, occasionally comes across as thoughtless, uttered without consideration for the recipient’s feelings.
“Brash” is another word used to describe me because I do not mind talking openly about sexuality or nudity nor do I monitor how frequently I let the word, “fuck” slip into casual conversation (or writing). Maybe I don’t earn the “nice” descriptor as routinely but I have been dubbed “sweet with a bright smile” when I’ve been on my best behavior (translation: holding it in).
Why is it important for me to be remembered anyway? Is that a trait inherent to most writers? How much of our actions are motivated by the desire to be remembered? Is the desire for legacy inane to us as humans? Do most people ponder legacy beyond having children? How much of how others will perceive us or remember us can we actually affect? No matter how loud we get, we are truly powerless at controlling the judgment others will form. An encyclopedia of experiences shape how, as adults, we’ve arrived at a place where we feel confident “sizing someone up” and projecting our insecurities upon them. I try to remind myself of the Anais Nin quote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
I’ll file this email faux-pas experience as a life lesson; just as I learned the hard way not to hit “reply all” to an office email, especially when using the word “shit” and “donuts” in the same sentence.