Sometimes I feel like I barely know some of my friends. I know nothing about their past, or in some cases (actually, more cases than is probably right) even what they've been up to lately. But I can tell you pretty much everything they like and dislike, their opinions on many matters, or predict what their response will be in just about any situation.
Other people are the exact opposite. I can tell you everything about their life, but I feel like I barely know them.
And then there's that whole other issue of feelings. I can hardly ever figure out how people are feeling, unless of course they are displaying strong signs of emotion. I can totally figure out really excited or really happy or really sad or really angry. But for the more subtle things, I just can't seem to get in their heads and figure it out. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that everyone tells me they have a hard time reading me? I don't know.
Anyway. My point is. How do you know when you know someone? What is it? What defines "Yes, I know this person well and we are close friends!" (or very well-known enemies, as the case may be) as opposed to "I know some stuff about this person but we are really just acquaintances!" Sometimes I have a hard time telling.
And then I guess there are also other times, where it's like "I know nothing about this person's life and I don't really know anything about their thoughts or feelings, but we've had some shared experiences that were a pretty good time, so I feel like I know them anyway." What's the deal?
I'm involved with a society at King's called the Memoir Project (mayhaps I will write more about that later). Part of it involved a writing workshop from a couple of the Journalism professors. One of them was talking about the way we know people in different contexts, which I found a very interesting idea. That we only know someone in their context as "so-and-so the friend" or "so-and-so the student" or "so-and-so the shy person at the back of the room," but they all have these other contexts that we don't know them in, like "so-and-so the daughter" or "so-and-so the employee" or "so-and-so the soccer player" or whatever the case may be. You know?
How can you possibly know someone in all of their contexts? It seems like you would have to be awfully involved in their life to know all the facets of them. And once you know them in one context, how can you break out of that to be able to see them in all those other, different contexts, without having that one interfere? I guess ideally you would want to merge all those different contexts and know them as one complete whole, from all the different angles. But I have to question the extent to which that is even possible.