A woman I know has raised horses and been a competitive barrel racer for close to 30 years. A few summers back, she won the barrel racing event at a major rodeo. At the next rodeo, a much smaller one, she didn’t even place.
As she and her son were in the pickup, headed home, she broke the disappointed silence with this: “Well! I guess those girls just didn’t know who I think I am.”
There are a bunch of reasons to appreciate that crack. It’s clever. It’s funny. It deflects the pain of a bad performance with humor that puts a single loss into perspective. You might even call it a classic example of how to “cowgirl up.”
But her smart remark is also true in a larger context. Nobody else can ever really know “who we think we are.” Or who we think they are, for that matter. It’s just one of the many factors that make it downright amazing that we can communicate with each other at all.
If we want people to know who we think we are, we have to let them know. Of course, before we can do that, we have to figure it out for ourselves. It’s one of those lifetime challenges—to be who we think we are instead of settling for being who we think other people think we are.
I think I’ll have to go think some more about what I think about that.