I spent the majority of my life believing something was wrong with me because I had very little interest in participating in activities those my age were interested in. This was further compounded by a father who thought something was wrong with me because I constantly chose to spend my time indoors, on the computer instead of interacting with people in the “real world”. In fact, he believed so strongly that something was wrong with me, that he would frequently push me to go out and do things despite my protest, and so I learned to appear to be more outgoing and social then I felt. I learned to adapt to my surroundings, fake it until I made it, and ultimately I learned the art of hiding.
It’s an interesting art to learn, somewhat similar to the Faceless Man in Game of Thrones. You learn to strip away your identity and to become what those around you want you to be, what they need you to be. I mastered the art so long ago that sometimes I find myself slipping back into and not realizing it. It’s so easy to fall back on old habits and so easy to pretend, at least it is for me. There was never anyone during my childhood or adolescent years that truly knew me. I was who I needed to be to survive and ultimately it served me well. After all, no one can hurt you if they don’t truly know you, so I made sure no one did.
I can’t say when I started to become more accepting of who I was but I know it was something that happened gradually. I could say that my first love is what changed it all but I’d be lying. If anything my first love was what forced me to see just how much of myself I was hiding. I wanted to be the person he needed and wanted and so I disregarded the things that made me an individual. I put him above anything and everything, most especially above me. It was he and I against the world until it wasn’t.
And then my world imploded and I was forced to figure out who I was without him. I was forced to really see me and what I had become, and while at the time I felt like my world was ending, as I got stronger and pushed myself up from the rubble left in his wake, I looked in the mirror in disgust. This was not who I wanted to be and somewhere down the line I let a man, no, a boy define me. I become that girl, you know the girl, the one who makes a boy her world not realizing that boy will never do the same for her. It was in the wake of that destruction that I started to change. It fueled me and pushed me to learn what made me, well, me.
Now that I’m older, I have a better understanding of who I am. For a long time during my early twenties, I was often described as an extrovert by those who interacted with me and I was always proud of that fact. I thought it made me a better person and I went out of my way to epitomize everything I thought that meant but as the friends I had in high school started to go their own ways and get involved in things I had zero interest1 in, I realized I was still hiding but to a lesser extent. I was still acting in a manner that people wanted, hiding my less desirable counterparts2 because I wasn’t sure there was anyone in my life that would stick around if they actually knew me.
Ultimately, as time went on, the people that I considered friends become few and far between and my circle of friends dwindled drastically, though if I’m honest, completely. Once I stopped accepting last minute invitations from “friends” who’s plans fell through, those “friends” made less of an effort to keep in contact so I turned to the internet where I found solace, first in the anonymity it provided and then in the connections I made with those that had similar interests who readily embraced the introvert that I spent more than a decade trying to hide.
Now, nearly 2 decades later, I’ve come to accept that I am more introverted than I am extroverted. I no longer force myself into interactions that make me uncomfortable and I have since stopped being what people want me to be. I will never be the girl who enjoys parties, large crowds, or small talk. I won’t ever be the girl who prefers going out drinking during the weekends over staying in to play video games or read.
I am the girl who seeks meaningful conversation over superficial bullshit. I am the girl who prefers to have a small handful of friends I know I can count on over many friends who aren’t reliable. I am a geek who enjoys gaming, web development and design. I am a girl who found herself and learned to embrace the quirks that some may find weird. I am not easily understood or easy to befriend, but at the end of the day when I lay my head down at night, I AM ME.
Take it or leave it.