Truth - No two perspectives are the same. We all experience the world in profoundly unique ways. That distinct viewpoint is part of what makes us all so special. No one takes in the world the way that we do. Nobody knows the things that go through our heads. No one else has all the information that we hold. Even more so, the ways in which we understand ourselves can be drastically different than how others know us to be. The narrative of our nature may be one thing to us and completely different to others. The catch to that sentiment is that both vantage points are equally as valid. Reconciling the two may be a lifelong process, but those that do so become legendary.

“Youth is the most suitable age to enjoy the life completely or to work diligently for the life, what you decide makes your rest of the life ordinary or legendary respectively.” Amit Kalantri
The dichotomy between who we understand ourselves to be versus who we actually are can sometimes be a sharp contrast. We know ourselves to behave and act one way while others may get a different experience all together from us. Sometimes our actions and words do not match up perfectly. Other times we consistently put on display one version of ourselves while embracing another when we are on our own. It's one part human nature to adapt to our surroundings and a another part internal complications from our life experiences. Why do we find ourselves struggling to accept the person that other people believe us to be, especially when that's a generally positive person? What stops us from accepting the truth that others try to give us about ourselves? Why are we incapable of seeing ourselves as adults, role models, and leaders for others even after they have orated their full faith in us?

There are so many thoughts that run through my  heading thinking about who people see me as and who I think I am. Fear is one of the big ones that explain the shirking away of positive feedback and subsequently applications of said feedback. I think I am afraid that others might be able to write my story for me and that makes me irrelevant. I might also be afraid that the person that others think of me as being might just actually be the reality of who I am. Maybe it terrifies me that other people may be able to read me. The notion that others may have insight into me that I am unable to extrapolate for myself is worrisome. Self-awareness can only reveal so much about ourselves. In some ways we have to depend on others to tell us how they understand us. The critical perspective of others can be invaluable feedback and acuity about ourselves. What we do with that information makes all the difference. It what separates us from being average or legendary.

Last week I spent my spring break visiting my alma mater in the University of Vermont. The experience was something out of a reality TV to say the least. People had a field day at my return as if I was some sort of celebrity, mythological beast, or celestial being. The pure shock and awe people had when they laid eyes on me or heard my voice was indescribable. I have never had people react to me with so much passion, I was truly flabbergasted. Who would have thought I was this important to so many people. I knew people there had cared for me deeply but the uproar my visit caused was something else. In some ways I diminish the hype that comes with me there because I realize people hyperbolize the actuality of me. On another I was forced to give some merit that this larger than life, relatably wise, and wholeheartedly selfless person that these people knew me might actually be who I am, at least to them. Whether I believed it or not, I was someone special. That process of reconciliation of my splintered identities was a powerful revelation I did not foresee coming in my short five day excursion there. Person after person relayed to me how I had impacted them positively, inspired them to push themselves, or given them hope in a time that they needed it most. I couldn't believe it that the little things I do because they are part of who I am had meant so much to all these people. People hugged me, thanked me profusely, and cried tears of joy in seeing me. I almost didn't know what to do with it but I realized I had to embrace and validate their truth. Maybe I was that person for them, and maybe I am really that person.

There were a few poignant discussions I had with the president of the institution, one of my close friends/brothers, and a favorite professor of mine. The first emphasized how different the campus was without me, and that my biggest gifts were my connectivity and empathy. His foreshadowing that I would be a game changer resonated me with deeply. I was so humbled for him to not only make time to meet with me but to express those vulnerable sentiments. I spent some time with my brother, Stephen, and his transformation into a someone who leads with down to Earth authenticity and understated confidence moved me deeply. He asked me to evaluate how he has changed and what he could to keep improving and I did as he asked emphasizing that he was, and always would be exactly the person I had known him to be - genuine, loyal, and perseverant. He used that as a moment to help me see that the same rang true for me. This person that people knew me as ... was me. Just as I was telling him to accept the leader others know him to be, he challenged me to take in to my heart the respect, appreciation, and love people had for me. My professor shared that she had kept up with my life on social media and was proud of who I was and continued to be in my bona fide declarations of self-authorship, advocacy, and carefree light, laughter, and joy. All of them, along with the literal tens of people that made time to see me gave me so much to think about. I had become legendary.

While I'm still working through the powerful emotions people expressed to me, I am challenging you to do the same. You are legendary. Your story is one of a kind. You are both your self-perception and who others perceive you to be. While our self-determination is of the utmost importance, the ways that we show up also write a portion of the narrative we live. We must be conscious of how we portray ourselves to others for it is the characterization that they internalize, positive or negative. If we don't like who others think of us as, we have the power and capacity to change it with our actions and our words. If we do, then our behaviors and attitudes can continue to be benign. Joining the two versions of ourselves in a constant process of negotiation but a worthwhile nonetheless. We are more capable of doing extraordinary or extraordinarily significant things than we know. Others may see our latent potential; it's up to us to tap into it to become legendary. X


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