From the time I have a recollection of rational thoughts as a human, I have been a people-pleaser. First with my parents, then with my friends, college buddies, work colleagues, and ultimately my extended family. It takes me an achingly long time to feel comfortable enough with someone to reveal my true self.
This led to elaborate changes in my personality from group to group. I was one self with my friends, another with my parents, and yet a totally foreign one to Bill’s family because I really wanted his family to like me. It was exhausting to change up my self for every gathering and every person I encountered. And yet it worked. People seem to like me. But it isn’t like I’m vying for an Oscar, here. I never lied about who I was, I just toned down the jokes or became the perfect daughter or grew very quiet. No one knew who I really was, perhaps because I myself did not know.
Writer Joan Didion once said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” I would change this to say, “I don’t know who I am until I write it down.” Sometimes I write things and when I go back and reread what I have put on the page, I think, “Wow, I never knew I was like that.” My thoughts are much more easily converted into words on a page than words coming from my mouth. But I want to drop the act. People-pleasing may have served me in the past but it is becoming increasingly difficult. I want to be one self—myself—all the time. If you like me, that’s awesome and if you don’t, I’ll just have to find a way to live with that.
So it’s just me, then. Ever onward with a blank screen as a blinking cursor beckons me to write my truth.