Thursday, July 06, 2006

Figuring Out Who You Really Are

Sometimes I feel like a cameleon as I adapt my personality to my current audience. "Is one of them the REAL me?" I ask myself.

We've all experienced the ability to be the child our parents wanted – the perfect child – at least some of the time. I then went on to create a "perfect wife" personality – you know the one that doesn't upstage her husband. And then there's the "perfect mother" personality. This one makes sure her children get a positive spin to the public and tries to be supportive without being dictatorial. For me all of these attempts have resulted in variations on a rather boring, uninteresting theme. This person wins accolades from the public, but doesn't even give them a hint at what's going on inside. A few glasses of wine chip away at this personality shell, but sleep comes before the real person can emerge.

So when my friend recently said to me, "You really are sort of a nut," I was overjoyed. I think she is one of the few people who know the real me, the one I want to be anyway. The difference here is that we talk about everything. We talk about encounters with our dead relatives. We talk about our weirdest dreams. We talk at length about our feelings. We talk about the things we haven't done but would like to do. We laugh a lot. There are never any eyebrows at 4-letter words. The only time she said "Enough" was when I was a little too graphic about my bathroom emergency on the beltway earlier this year.

My challenge is to figure out how to introduce this hidden person to the rest of my world. This is the personality that makes me truly happy. I want to live it more than just occasionally.

Does this make any sense to you or am I the only one who has this multiple personality disorder?


Blogger Jamy said...

I've always thought that different people bring out different aspects of our personalities. I was more divided when I was younger (I think).

Your post made me wonder--how many men try to be the "perfect husband"?

10:09 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Hmmm … I have precisely the opposite problem. I do not adapt to the social circumstance - but this is just me and has been a long standing issue with me. I never see any reason to be anyone other than me. I often wonder what it would be like to be able to adapt and fit in - then I wonder why I would want to be untrue to myself (then I wonder, wouldn't it be nice to fit in? then I wonder ... until I get dizzy ;-)

12:33 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I don't know if I change around different people, if I let them see only certain aspects of myself or if they just see what they want to see. Probably a little bit of everything.

I've got a Walt Whitman quote on my keyboard. "I exist as I am, that is enough." I hope it's true.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy -- There are men who try to be Mr. Macho, although I haven't met any for a long time. You know the types that always open doors and hold your chair. I think they are actually a dying breed. In terms of "perfect" emotionally, I don't think most men have a clue as to what women really want.

Richard -- Your comment made me think my own dilemma is a little more complex than at first blush. I am no pushover or conformist when it comes to directions or principles. But I tend to limit my range of emotions and censor my conversations with many people. There are still a lot of people out there who can't take the F___ word or the S___ word without wincing. Marlowe Thomas used to sing about "Free to be you and me," which I think encouraged children to embrace their feelings. This is what I seem to have trouble doing around some people.

Kristin -- Walt Whitman was a great example of someone who dared to live his life as he wanted, against all odds, and there were many in his day.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I know what you mean being a bit different with various people...some get the watered-down version, some get the total hangin' out thing.
I am fairly open and expressive and probably come off just about the same to everyone who has met and spoken with me for any length of time..but I was brought up also to know when to be extra polite etc. and you do need to read your audience because there are just different levels of friendship and bosses, co-workers are going to get a fraction of what you reveal to people you've known as well as family.

I love it when you can totally let everything hang out and I am lucky that I seem to be able to do this with quite a few people comfortably. Then, they respond in kind so it grows even more. If you let them feel comfortable by sharing openly first, then they will too. Take a risk and try it more often..people will like it if they feel you are being the real you.
I think I picked this up from my sisters likely. They totally know every little thing about me.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Yeah you're a nut, but you're also a perfect wife and mother, and a lot of other things, too. You're complex which is one reason I adore you so much. Great post.

9:23 AM  

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