"Does the madman know he is mad? Or are the madmen those who insist on convincing him of his unreason in order to safeguard their own idea of reality?"
—The Shadow of the Wind
My philosophical repertoire is not at all impressive, but I do vaguely remember the only thing I learned all year in my 10th grade English class: solipsism. It's the theory that you can only be certain of the existence of your own mind, and nothing else. It means that it's impossible to be sure that other people, other things outside of these limitations, exist at all, or if they are merely projections of your subconscious.
It's a rather self-indulgent philosophy, and a very lonely thought. And it holds very little weight against the physics of the world. But I wonder if there's a little bit of truth to it. Reality is such a fragile and subjective thing; it only exists as we believe it does. If, hypothetically, solipsism were the slightest bit valid, then the only way we would be capable of seeing people would be in the context of our own worlds. And that makes a lot of sense to me. Whether we intend to or not, we think of people as they exist in relation to ourselves.
I wonder if we are attracted to people because they possess qualities that we envy in some way, and if we inherently dislike those who are ugly mirrors of our own flaws. I think the most perfect people for us are ones that reflect the people that we could be, people we want to be. I think we have an innate tendency to look for ourselves in others. And I think we borrow things from everyone that we love, whether it's a favorite phrase or an acquired patience; we kind of collect and absorb them, and become different people because of them. And ironically, the people who love us are, in part, in love with these very things, these bits and pieces from someone else's life. But they see us as a whole of these parts, as something brand-new in their world.
And that's why I kind of do believe in solipsism, in a way. Because I think we construct our realities according to what we desire most, and other people are inevitably only what we want them to be for us.