I was sitting across from a friend of mine at a restaurant recently, explaining my love for Christopher Eccleston and the Ninth Doctor on Doctor Who, when another friend interrupted me, blurting out, “You are such an interesting person.”
I have been called many things in my life, but never “interesting.” I have been called — among other things — opinionated, fun, insane, crazy, real, insecure, and stylish. I have never been called “interesting.”
Obviously, my first reaction was to stare at her, waiting for her to correct herself, or offer more on the subject, but nothing else came out of her mouth. I finally began to form words, asking, “Why am I interesting?” She answered me like it was the easiest question ever: “I just feel like you have so many… layers, I guess, that I don’t know about you.”
Her statement has haunted me since she said it.
I have formed this nasty habit, as I believe most people do, of hiding away aspects of my personality. I reserve certain parts of myself for certain groups of people. And lately, I’ve been holing up most aspects of myself in an attic full of tulle skirts and VOGUEs from the past ten years.
Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s a habit that stays with us long after school, when all we want to do is fit in with those kids who are are whole social lives. We get scared that people might not like us if we show all of our cards. The cardinal rule of dating: never show anything that has kept you single until you’re well into the relationship and you know your significant other can handle it. Or, hide it away entirely. I know it’s supposed to be normal, I know it’s supposed to be the way people live, but something isn’t right here.
What are we so afraid of? Rejection? Not being deemed “normal?” I can tell you right now, if someone could bring me an example of one living human that was considered “normal,” I’d be shocked. I am of the school of thought that if you’re “normal,” you’re probably the most abnormal person I’ll ever meet.
Think about it. What’s the worst that could happen if someone rejected you because of your entire personality and your quirks and the way you sing along to the radio in the car and you burn things when you try and cook? The worst that could happen is that they slip out of your life and the people that stay are the people who really want to be there, the people who accept you as you are. This is probably the scariest thing for people to face. I’m scared of it. I’m terrified of showing all my cards because time has shown that the instances I do, people tend to run away. But there are those I’ve shown all my cards to and they have loved me even more for it. And those people are my best friends.
I’m a songwriter, so I tend to bottle things up and write really detailed verses and choruses late at night in my bedroom, because it’s less scary than actually showing people how I feel or what I like or telling someone about my favorite thing that happened that day. I make self-deprecating jokes because I’d rather just hide away than have to face the reality and the hard decisions that come with it.
But once you start taking little steps to try and show more of yourself, it is so worth it. You feel better. You have a better outlook on life. You’re less stressed because you’re not spending 90% of your time trying to please other people. I had a conversation about my love for rainbow sprinkles on ice cream the other week, and I couldn’t tell you the last time before than when I had a conversation where I felt like I didn’t need to put up five layers of concrete wall between me and the person I was talking to.
It’s scary. And it’s hard. And it’s not an overnight change. But opening yourself up to the possibility that you don’t have to hide behind a mask for the rest of your life is a wonderful thing. The sooner you start admitting things to yourself, the sooner you can start taking down those layers of brick you’ve built. Underneath all those walls, you’re probably a very interesting person.