Ryan’s notes

Somewhat known in certain circles

I once came across an Instagram bio that said simply: “somewhat known in certain circles”. I found it at the time, and still now, a brilliant description of what I hope to be. It’s a statement of impact (“known”), of humility (“somewhat”), of localness and context (“certain”), of community (“circles”). To me, it means to be understood and appreciated by the people you get to know. And it rejects the idea of being the “great man”, someone who needs to be known across the world for his feats.

Somewhat known in certain circles means being the person who does something notable that we can appreciate. The guy we know who makes bean to bar chocolate in his room and doles it out generously. The woman we know who strapped skis to her bike and pedaled to Tahoe. The two friends who summited 7 peaks in Desolation Wilderness in a day. The friend who’s always got a thirty pound batch of kimchi in a crock. The person who will make a friend out of any stranger. The friend whose party you will always attend because the food and people you find will tickle your soul. It’s the act of doing something remarkable, in proximity, for the people you care about. It’s about embracing who you are, at the extreme, and knowing that the people you’ve collected along the way will love you for it. It’s so much more exhilarating than being appreciated by people you’ll never get to meet: the energy you emit is received and returned in kind.

It’s been 10 years since I’ve encountered this phrase, and I still love it. Everyone is of course somewhat known in certain circles, but what if you were to make the most of it: to adjust your circles to the people you most respect, and then to to whittle the reason for them knowing you to a distillation of who you really are? Isn’t this the best way to live life? To be connected, appreciated, understood, and known for being you?

Somewhat known in certain circles. Yes.