A conversation with an old friend today got me thinking about how very difficult it is to just be myself. you read that right: It's hard sometimes to just be me. Plain old me. As I get older though, I've found that it's become easier and easier to be myself. As I chatted back and forth with my friend about some insecurities he was having; I found myself telling him to just be himself.
"Just be yourself. You're great."
It sounds so simple but in reality it's as easy as trying to put a 2 year old down for a nap after you've fed him a chocolate bar and a gallon of Mountain Dew. Almost impossible. Unless you have patience and accept that it's not always smooth sailing.
I have some close friends who love me and my quirks. Like the fact that I laugh too loud, make strange Tourettes pterodactyl sounds, and support me through every single one of my strange obsessions. These are the people who have been with me long enough to see the real me...the me that I keep under wraps upon meeting new people for fear that they won't like who I truly am.
I was recently slapped in the face , hypothetically of course, with the fact that I don't come off as a friendly person. ME?! I always thought that I was friendly, polite...but I was told by someone that I just recently met that I come off as stand-offish...mean, even. They rushed on to tell me that that couldn't have been farther from the truth but the damage was already done.
Wow. I have to admit...my feelings were hurt. I wasn't upset with this person in any way but I was upset with myself. It had taken me 32 years to get to a point where I felt confident and comfortable with myself and it took 30 seconds to destroy that foundation that I struggled to build. I know that the person telling me this wasn't trying to hurt me but...it stung. I obsessed over this for days. I asked The Detective over and over again what I had done to make that impression on people....
"Maybe it's because it takes you a while to really open up to new people?"
I don't know the answer to that, I don't know if I ever will. What I do understand now is how wrong a first impression of someone can be and how insecurities about revealing your true self can be such burdens. It brings to mind the old saying: "Don't judge a book by it's cover."
I can't change my "cover" but I have a pretty good story to tell if you just give me a chance. This experience has taught me that I need to slow down with my assumptions about other people....everyone should.
Above all else: "Be yourself! Those who mind don't matter and those who matter won't mind!"