Freewriting Exercise: How Do Others See You?

This exercise is an opportunity to explore a different side of yourself by experiencing yourself through the eyes of another.

Much of the time, we are stuck in our own limited perspectives — we have our habitual way of seeing ourselves and that’s it. On occasion, we are open to outside opinion and able to receive feedback, though generally the opportunities for this are infrequent and they can be restricted to a narrow range of experience.

At a writer’s workshop, for example, you might hear opinions about your work from the other writers who are present. This by extension might offer some other perspective as to how they feel about you. It also may primarily say something about the other person and their literary preferences.

At work, you get a certain perspective of yourself at an annual or quarterly review, though this is probably focused on your conduct as an employee and not so much about your personal life. Otherwise, at work, you might glimpse a vision of yourself through the eyes of your coworkers since they spend a great deal of time with you and work with you in varying capacities. Maybe they see the part of you that shows up when you are at work. Maybe they see a different side of you as well.

At home, your family or roommates or loved ones experience yet another side of you, likely very different from how you are felt and heard and seen at work.

The same would be true for yourself out in the wild — meeting someone on the street, chatting with a stranger about the weather, negotiating with a driver while on a trip in a different country — everyone sees different sides of you.

Exploring any one of these can bring insights toward the mysterious center that is at the heart of all these different facets of you.

Exploring several of these in turn can bring interesting revelations as to how you choose, consciously or unconsciously, to show up in different situations.

The freewriting exercise

  1. Write without stopping for twenty minutes
  2. Bring to mind a given scenario where you are interacting with another person.
  3. Write freely of this interaction and as much as possible explore yourself from the other person’s perspective

Some potentially helpful questions to ask yourself during your writing session

  • How do they see you?
  • Feel you?
  • What do they remember fondly about you?
  • What would they want you to know about yourself?
  • When they describe you to someone else, what do they emphasize? Do they change anything?
  • What stories do they like to tell or remember?

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