Socha: The Hidden Vulnerability of Others

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Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

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Shared March 16, 2015

It’s the kind of basic human vulnerability that we’d all find familiar, but is still somehow surprising when we notice it in others. It’s an open question why we have such public confidence, and such private doubts.

THE DICTIONARY OF OBSCURE SORROWS http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows...
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for. Follow the project, give feedback, suggest an emotion you need a word for, or just tell me about your day.

Email the author: obscuresorrows@gmail.com
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Twitter @ObscureSorrows https://twitter.com/obscuresorrows

ETYMOLOGY
From Czech socha, "statue" or "the crotch of a tree."

TRANSCRIPT
There's an optical illusion that's easy to fall for, even if you know the trick. The more distant you are from other people, the more invulnerable they appear.

You see yourself as you are, with your flaws just as clear as your successes, but you see most other people on their terms, only from the side they present to the world, stoic and confident. And at first glance they've got everything figured out, with everything set in stone, securely embedded in their community, wrapped up with their loved ones, their lives like a finished work of art.

But it's only just a trick of perspective: everyone else seems to be doing better than you, because you can't see the cracks from so far away. How insecure their footing, how malleable they really are. How many years of effort went into shaping their persona into something acceptable, how many other hands it took to build their lives, which are still only ever a work in progress.

It's the kind of basic human vulnerability that we'd all find familiar, but is still somehow surprising when we notice it in others. It's an open question why we have such public confidence, and such private doubts.

Maybe that contradiction is what keeps us moving, wanting to be more than what we are, and never be satisfied. Maybe it lets us keep our distance, to avoid too much friction as we brush past each other. Or maybe it's what draws us together, the only irreplaceable thing we still need each other for, just one last excuse to keep stopping by, so we can prop each other up, and remind us that nothing is set in stone, not even who we are, or who we pretend to be.