I always was afraid of opening up to and showing myself to other people fully, letting them know what I`m into, what I`m about, etc.. I always feared they wouldn`t accept or appreciate me if I would do so, or that they would think I`m weird/odd. It wasn`t even so much the fear that they would make fun of me or tease me as it was me thinking that if I would fully show up they would notice:"Oh, he`s different from us, he`s odd, he isn`t into the things that we`re all about, he he thinks differently, he doesn`t have the same values, likes, morals, he doesn`t act the way we do, he doesn`t talk the way we do, etc.So he just wouldn`t mesh well with us, he can`t belong to us, be part of us, we can`t include him, he`s too different." Deep down, I also thought that if I would fully show myself, it would lead to some sort of constant conflict and tension with others because of how different I perceived myself and how "anti" defiant, adverse and incompatible my views and attitudes actually were towards and with those of the people in my environment(, especially in school). I just sensed I would always rub others up the wrong way, and so over time I unconsciously convinced myself that it would be better not to whole- heartedly express myself, to better hold myself back.
So as I have already stressed in other posts, I wouldn`t ever take on the values, likes, tastes, etc. of a group or person, but I simply wouldn`t tell anyone what I was thinking, what my tastes or preferences are, if I felt it would collide with the other people`s perspective/likes (unless an important value of me or sth that was really important to me got hit, but generally I wouldn`t), remaining silent and sometimes withdrawn as a consequence.
But the result was that eventually felt like I had to conceal parts of myself, hide aspects of myself from others, and what I`d hide would be dependent on the person/group I was dealing with or talking to. I would always try to show up or present myself as what I felt the other one(s) would approve of and, most importantly, what would make us get along with the best, the smoothiest. I would not change my preferences, tastes, values or anything, but I would simply adjust my behaviour and my vibe to match theirs.*
Well, to some extent, this is normal and healthy behaviour as it is natural that we adjust ourselves to the person we`re with and attune to them to some degree, but if you do it to an extent that you feel you can`t really be or express yourself and feel you have to conceal parts of yourself around certain persons, then it obviously isn`t healthy or normal anymore.
So this caused that depending on my social environment or the person I was with, I would show up as a -more or less- different person. I realized that with most people in my life I only allowed parts of me to come out, but I would always hide other ones which then again I would express with other people, whom I felt would be welcoming of this side of me. But then again, I would hide other parts of me from these peole as well and the cycle continues. At some point I thought to myself how weird it would be if two different aquaintances each one from a different circle would meet me at the same time. I wouldn`t know how to behave at all,I would feel like I would have to split myself and be two different persons at the same time. I realized as well that I felt that I couldn`t express myself, and really be myself, especially around one very close friend. At the same time I felt like she didn`t truly know me at all anymore, because there were so many parts of myself I was repressing in front of her. I thought as soon as I would express them, she wouldn`t be able to handle it; there were also some issues with shame that played a role in this. The only way to deal with his was to disengage from any form of contact with her, to cut her off. Doing so had also other reasons, but I won`t speak about them here and now( btw I`ve spoken of enough about this in some of my earlier posts/ threads already), otherwise I might have tried to initiate contact again later after some time. During that time, I was dealing with feelings of loneliness and frustration, because no one actually knew me or got through to me. I was always hiding and sort of slipping away internally so as not to be firmly grasped by anyone. This situation created a heavy feeling of emptiness and meaninglesness, and led to a confusion about who I actually was, like there was nothing firm or solid within me I could hold on to.
That was also when I pretty much withdrew and disengaged from all of my contacts and social life in general, and when I built up these "internal walls" with regards to others and the outer world, kinda as to affirm to myself: This is you, this is me, I`m a seperate person and I don`t need to adjust to what I think you`d like, I`m not gonna play any role or pretend anything for anyone, I`m gonna play my own game and assert and step out for my own standards and ideas, and the like.
I`m different today to how I deccribed myself in the beginning and the majority of this post. I still have my struggles here and there, but especially with every new contact I encounter I make sure to go against my old patterns as much as possible. Right when I first meet someone, I really try to make sure the other person gets to see what I`m into, what I`m about, what I like and don`t like and what my tastes are. And I try to turn this into a habit I rely on from the very beginning everytime I get to know someone, to almost jump ahead in assuring who I am and what my preferences etc. are, in order to make sure I won`t ever again get into the situation where I feel I can`t express all of myself and have to conceal parts of myself for another. Now I almost get a sense of enjoyment from saying;" Nah, I don`t like this", "I think differently about that", "I`m not into this", when another does approve of the same thing, or on the contrary:" Oh yes, I like this"; when others don`t do so. I sometimes do that just to contradict another person, sometimes even when I`m actually not sure about what I think( not on too big issues mostly though), and to affirm to myself and the other one that I`m a separate, individuated person, and that I won`t give in.
It`s much about building a profound, strong sense of (healthy)"self-centeredness", of how to show up to people in a way that most accurately presents who I am as a person, and learning to assert that.
* ( I`m so particular about not taking on the values, tastes, oppinions, etc. of others as as my own, because this is usually said about 9`s, but it`s not true for for me, and I think for other 9`s as well. It is much more accurate to say, that in close friendships especially, there was/is this willingnes in me to lower my own preferences or likes/tastes, etc., to abstain from them in favour of the other person`s . It`s like saying:" Whatever you wanna do, I`m fine with it, I`m with you." Simple example: Me and a friend wanna decide where to eat, and my friend proposes X whereas I would actually like to go to Y, but I`ll just go with option X, not because I think I like X more now, but because in this moment it just matters more to me what my friend wants and that my friend is happy, and I`m willing to take myself back in order to ensure that. Because " when my friend is ok, I`m ok as well", and therefore it doesn`t matter where I want to go; all that matters is that I`m with my friend and that we`re having a nice time together, enjoying each other`s company. That`s the attitude behind that, but again, I don`t "take on" their likes.
And in these cases it genuinely didn`t matter to me what I wanted because all that was important to me was our friendship, my bond with the other person, and not to disrupt our harmony.)