Aligning With Your True Self
The more aware I become of who I really am, the more I recognize how some people have been spot on about me in the past, while others have been completely fooled by the illusion of who I presented myself to be.
I used to be extremely closed off. In certain situations, I still am. I didn’t share my feelings openly, but I was quick to share my thoughts or opinions. A friend in college pointed out how unemotional I portrayed myself. At the time, I didn’t think that was accurate, but the more I’ve grown into myself, I realize that she was right.
Up until very recently, I’d always led with walls and it took a very long time for me to allow anyone inside. I was reserved and evasive. I could easily avoid talking about my emotions by deflecting and steering a conversation in a more comfortable direction.
Many people who have known me for years laud me for how independent I am. “You don’t care what anybody thinks about you. You just do your own thing.” I realize now that what they perceived as independence was actually avoidance. It appeared as though I didn’t care what people thought about me because I never allowed myself to get close enough to anyone to care what they thought of me. I did my own thing, not necessarily because I refused to conform, but because I didn’t know how to connect, or was too afraid to, and never bothered to try. What they thought was ‘doing my own thing’ was really just me, wandering aimlessly on the outskirts feeling like an outsider.
People used to complimented me on how even-keeled my state of being seemed to be. My cheer coach in high school once told me how she envied me because I never let anything bother me. “You just let it roll off your back,” she said. She didn’t know that nothing bothered me because I was dead inside. It’s hard to be bothered by things when you don’t allow yourself to feel anything. My heart was frozen and I navigated life with cold, hard logic. I held all of my emotions in.
I had people in college who told me that they couldn’t believe I had been a cheerleader. Apparently I didn’t fit the “bubbly and energetic” stereotype.
Especially in my twenties, I gave people the impression that I was aloof and uncaring. “Cold and standoffish” were the words my neighbor used to describe me my senior year of college. In reality, I was painfully introverted and experienced a copious amount of social anxiety. I spent six out of seven nights a week that semester drunk or nearing it so that I could function in a social environment, so he must have been one of the unlucky people who caught me on a sober day.
My own blog readers used to tell me that they thought I had my shit together, and they didn’t think I had any problems. Wrong. SOOOOOO WRONG.
It’s taken me a very long time and a lot of hard work to lean into feeling. Allowing myself to talk about love and to tell other people how I feel about them has been a major accomplishment for me, as stated in my last blog post on cultivating radical authenticity.
I still have a tendency to swallow anger and avoid conflict, and that’s something I’m trying to push through in a balanced way. I’m slowly and surely, over the course of the last two years or so, allowing myself to be more open and vulnerable in the most intimate aspects of my life, relationships in particular.
It’s a bit ironic. I used to despise public displays of affection and loathed any showing of feeling. It made me extremely uncomfortable when other people would tell me how they felt about me, and when it came to relationships, I would completely shut down and run away. I told myself I didn’t need to be in a relationship. I was fine being alone. I was in total denial of the fact that connection was the thing I craved the most, and that I was utterly terrified of the prospect.
I realize now that having deep, fulfilling connection in my relationships is exceptionally important to me. I want to be seen and understood and loved, and I’m far more willing, now, to allow myself to be seen and understood, and to give love and allow it to be reciprocated. Touch is actually my love language, and I’m an exceptionally physically affectionate person, even publicly.
Isn’t it bizarre how deny ourselves the things we need most?
I’m still fascinated with how people perceive me. I wonder if more of who I am on the inside is now in alignment with how I present myself to the world. You might be able to help me find out! Visit this link and you’ll see a list of positive adjectives. Choose 5 or 6 that you believe most describe me, enter your name (or just put in “anonymous”) and submit your answers. I’ll be able to see which words others use to describe how they perceive me.
Next, visit this link and you’ll see a list of negative adjectives. Again, choose 5 or 6 that you believe most describe me, and enter your name (or don’t if you don’t want me to know who you are) and submit your answers. I’ll also be able to see which words you use to describe how you perceive me.
I’ll post the results in my next blog post.