I always thought of myself as being an open book.

I am happy to share thoughts and experiences that to many of my friends would be far too personal to share with someone they did not completely trust. The one exception is that I don’t like sharing them with people if I anticipate they will make negative comments about these thoughts and experiences but maybe it is a trait of mine that I assume the best about most people because I have definitely shared a lot with strangers and acquaintances.

But I had a recent experience that made me realize I might not be as comfortable with oversharing as I thought.

Partially motivated by drink and games like Truth or Dare, I shared some personal experiences with a group of people that I was not close to and had not built a relationship of trust with. At the time, I didn’t think anything of sharing it. I suppose, to me, I like the idea of being an open book because  1.) the highly personal thoughts and experiences you have are often quite accurate reflections of who you really are therefore sharing them with others allows you to share yourself with them, making for more genuine relationships and potential connections and 2.) sharing everything freely means you have nothing to hide which feels safer – there are no secrets to be revealed about you without your consent if you reveal everything yourself. Maybe this is a behavior I’ve developed because I have had people in my life before who have shared private thoughts and experiences relating to me with other people so I’m guarding myself against that.

Well, a few days later from having shared such personal information with these people, I thought back to what I had said and felt extremely uncomfortable and even anxious about it. I felt regret. I felt vulnerable and vulnerability made me feel uncomfortable because I had not built a relationship of trust with these people so I would never want to be vulnerable in front of them because I don’t know what they are going to do with that vulnerability – will they guard it or will they trample on it?

Yet, I wasn’t so much fearful that they would use the things I shared against me because the fact is, they were things that had actually happened and that I am not ashamed about and they don’t reflect badly on me. So why does it make me so uncomfortable for them to know? I suppose, I realized that these experiences just felt private to me. Maybe some of them were moments that were only for me or only for me and the people I shared them with. It’s hard to explain and was interesting for me to consider as someone who has been such an open book with strangers before.

But people change. Maybe with time, I have come to view experiences I’ve gone through with a different lens and they’ve come to mean something different to me – something worth keeping private from people unless I trust them. But it’s not that I think these things will be used against me. But letting people see moments where you might have been vulnerable – even if it doesn’t reflect badly on you at all – is a big decision. I only want people I really trust to see me that way.

Yet, I wonder if this is a bad impulse for me to have. I wonder if I secretly feel ashamed or fearful about who I am at my core. Because I feel embarrassed and vulnerable that I shared personal information with these people. But why should I feel this way unless I don’t feel confident about who I am in private moments?

I’m still unsure how I feel about it.

Tied to this topic is my sharing online. The fact is, I’ve shared much more online than I have with most people I know. But my online presence is mostly anonymous. At the same time, though, it lasts forever and it is not really anonymous. Someone who knew me well enough in my offline world could easily recognise the girl writing this as me and I have not tried to disguise myself so that people stumbling upon this site cannot recognise me.

But I suppose because I cannot see people reading what I write, and avatars on a post feel so far removed from reality, it doesn’t really impress me hard enough that there are people who read these intimate thoughts in my brain …

And of course I also want to feel seen. I want to share my thoughts and be known. But only by the right people … the people who will appreciate these thoughts. But how will we know who appreciates them if neither person can be transparent enough?

self fulfilling prophecies

i couldnt begin this post in a more cliche way, but im going to do it anyway

when you believe you are a certain way, you end up becoming more and more like it. im sure there are always exceptions, but beliefs about oneself that may not really be true can limit you in ways you dont realise

a prime example (because this is essentially a post telling me not to be like this): my belief that i am a socially anxious, socially awkward human who is bad at anything social.

and i honestly dont know how true that is. some people tell me im the most awkward person to ever awkward, while others say im completely normal. yes, i am anxious. but once i get comfortable with someone, im fine. once we hang out for a couple months … sure, there are still those awkward silences and weird moments when youve just said hello but the conversation doesnt kick off immediately. but you know what? i survive those moments. and theyre really alright. i dont get sick in my stomach (usually) before having to meet someone. its really not as bad as i make myself believe …

as i do make myself believe its bad. but maybe if i told myself that … no, socially awkward and anxious is NOT who i am and things sometimes really ARE easy and natural … i would actually feel less of this fear and more freedom

what if i believed that i can and am sometimes the person i wish i was – confident and talkative and fun?

ive also realised that im not as awkward or untalkative as some people. thats not to say anything against them – but just to say that maybe the narrative i keep telling myself isnt true anymore.

if i dont want this to be my identity – and i dont – and if i want to change my narrative … then i can

but i need to shed these labels and stories first

type 4

I decided to read up a detailed summary of my enneagram type again. I am amazed all over by how this profile seems to know me better than I know myself. Everything I read was absolutely true about myself and some were things I hadn’t realised but that made everything make so much sense. It’s hardly a positive portrait of myself but it’s in knowing our weaknesses that we can become better versions of ourselves, isn’t it?

The Individualist: the summary begins by calling this the sensitive, introspective type. I suppose the fact that I’m writing an entire post about my enneagram findings – about who I am as one of nine types – suggests I am highly introspective … too much for my own good, in fact. As for the sensitive aspect, I couldn’t think of a word to describe me better – except perhaps for the next adjectives: expressive, dramatic, self absorbed, temperamental.

Wow. Need I even say more? Already the test has grasped my incessant need to share my thoughts and feelings with the people I care about and my tendency to overdramatise and feel too much. I say that I make a bigger deal out of things than they really deserve – but who’s to say how important something really is? I overcommunicate and feel too much … Hayley Kiyoko always seems to find a way to apply to me.

I have always been self aware as Fours tend to be. The problem is, this self awareness doesn’t translate to any change. While arguably, self awareness is beneficial in and of itself insofar as it contributes to an understanding of self and an increase of knowledge, it doesn’t fix our problems or our flaws. The same goes for honesty. While I am determined to be honest with myself so that I can know myself, it feels like I’m then left stagnating. What does one do with knowledge?

And yet, for a Type Four, maybe change is in fact less important than understanding. The basic fear of the four is having no identity or personal significance and the basic desire is to find themselves and their significance – to find an identity. I’ve never read a truer sentence. Surprisingly, although I’ve  always known that I’m lost at finding my identity, to be confronted with the idea that the need for an identity could be my identity itself is a whole different thing. And at the same time, it’s absolutely true of myself. I feel like I can never quite realise who I am but rather than let it be, I feel this desperation to know and this terror at never finding my purpose and wandering life without knowing who I am and what I’m striving for.

One part I do not exactly relate to is the idea of being fundamentally different from others. I don’t believe I am fundamentally different as I feel that although other people may portray a certain image, I am convinced that they do feel and think some of what I do – except you cannot know for sure unless they choose to confide in you. However, it is true that I see my skill set as being different from others and do tend to see myself as inferior in certain areas – for instance, I maintain that I am horrible at socialising while nearly everyone else has it together. You get to a point where you wonder how much of what you believe of yourself is truth and how much is distorted reality.

The profile mentions the feeling of something missing in oneself. It suggests that we see certain qualities in other people that we feel we lack: will power …  Social ease … Self-confidence … Emotional tranquility. But even though I do perceive this disjuncture between myself and others, I do not want to be alone. It is a primary fear, along with the fear of absence of identity. I want deeply to be understood … to be listened to.

I suppose that’s where the self absorbed aspect comes in as well. I am unable to stop thinking about myself and get out of my head and turn my attention to something bigger and more important. It’s always about me. At heart, Fours are apocalyptic teenagers.

At the same time, the profile does offer advice.

“In the course of their lives, Fours may try several different identities on for size, basing them on styles, preferences, or qualities they find attractive in others.”

This is something I have done. Being unsure of my identity, I try on different identities based on people I admire. But the problem I find is that I fit into several different identities.

“But underneath the surface, they still feel uncertain about who they really are. The problem is that they base their identity largely on their feelings. When Fours look inward they see a kaleidoscopic, ever-shifting pattern of emotional reactions. Indeed, Fours accurately perceive a truth about human nature—that it is dynamic and ever changing. But because they want to create a stable, reliable identity from their emotions, they attempt to cultivate only certain feelings while rejecting others. Some feelings are seen as “me,” while others are “not me.” By attempting to hold on to specific moods and express others, Fours believe that they are being true to themselves.”

And this helps the search for identity to become clearer. Maybe at the end of the day, there is no such thing as a solid identity. As the profile says, human nature is dynamic and ever changing. There is no reason the different identities aren’t equally “me”. Except that makes identity confusing. I feel like I am more than one person. But is that really such a bad thing? There is a risk to only accepting certain moods as being consistent with identity because they limit oneself. They make a person less whole and less full than they could otherwise be. Just imagine all the creative potential and diversity of experience that would come from accepting that “me” does not mean, let’s say, that I am only a socially anxious, quiet, introspective human who doesn’t belong, but that sometimes I am a happy, carefree, loud person who loves and gets along with other people … because the truth is that I have moments and experiences like these. But I become so fixated on the idea that I am socially inept and forever alone that I don’t let myself appreciate the full happiness and success that I am capable of feeling.

“Fours can become so attached to longing and disappointment that they are unable to recognize the many treasures in their lives.”

Case in point.

I always feel like there’s something out there that I am missing. I feel such an aching. But I’ve come to realise it is probably an illusion. There is nothing magical out there that can remove this longing … not in this life at least. There is happiness to be found in what I know.

“As long as they believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with them, they cannot allow themselves to experience or enjoy their many good qualities. To acknowledge their good qualities would be to lose their sense of identity (as a suffering victim) and to be without a relatively consistent personal identity (their Basic Fear). Fours grow by learning to see that much of their story is not true—or at least it is not true any more. The old feelings begin to fall away once they stop telling themselves their old tale: it is irrelevant to who they are right now.”

It’s a scary idea to think that my identity is as a victim and that I’m therefore stuck in a vicious cycle. I suppose it is similar to the idea that people get stuck in abusive relationships over and over because they believe that’s what they deserve. In believing that one is a terrible person and will always fall short, when the opposite happens, it threatens this sense of identity and therefore the mind tells itself that this is not success. This is not happiness. It is not an easy thing to be in pain, so to survive, we tell ourselves that there is beauty in pain. We embrace the pain and make it ours, but we become so intertwined within it that we will in fact, take sadness with us to our graves.

Yet it is also possible to build up a new identity.

“Addictions: Over-indulgence in rich foods, sweets, alcohol to alter mood, to socialize, and for emotional consolation. Lack of physical activity. Bulimia. Depression. Tobacco, prescription drugs, or heroin for social anxiety. Cosmetic surgery to erase rejected features.”

Two words: comfort eating. There was a time when I would eat entire family packs of chocolates at one go. After the first five or so, it was a steady spiral into nausea. It didn’t taste good at all. And yet, I couldn’t stop. I can’t describe the self hatred that came from knowing that I was destroying my own body, that I was making myself fat (a misguided fear but a huge fear of mine nonetheless) which would make me hate myself even more, that I was making myself feel even shittier than I had before, but I couldn’t stop. I find the word comfort eating a little strange. There was no comfort in gorging on sweets.

I will admit becoming a little wary of alcohol now that I’ve started as I do not want to become reliant on it. I use alcohol sometimes to fall asleep when I am in too much emotional pain to do so on my own. It really doesn’t do to numb pain. Pain must be dealt with. But consistent with my over introspective tendencies, dealing with pain means analysing it when maybe sometimes distraction really is better. Maybe I just need to be distracted out of my little bubble and alcohol is good for that.

Advice for Fours include paying less attention to feelings and remembering that negative feelings do not erase the presence of positive ones nor does that become your identity. I especially like the idea that self confidence and self esteem comes from positive experiences. This is true. And yet, before having self confidence and self esteem, it’s difficult to put oneself in the position to have these experiences. But one must do so anyway. At the end of the day, I think a key point for Fours to follow is to spend less time in their mind and in their mire of feelings and more time doing. Being. Meeting people. Making connections. Trying new things and new experiences.

At the end of the day, I also think that simply realising that the obsession with identity is a personality trait makes it seem less serious and less important. It gives perspective in the sense that we see this compulsion not as gospel that we must follow but as an odd quirk of ourselves that we can ignore. We can ignore it … even though it will probably rear its head at the most inopportune of times … we can still ignore it.

The other recommendation I found extremely helpful was that Fours need to focus their thoughts, experiences, and compulsions into creativity. That explains why I get incredibly anxious and depressed when I stop creating. I need an outlet for these impulses and I need a purpose. Creation takes impulse and makes it into art and I feel like I’ve done something of significance. Even if no one should discover what I’ve created, at least … I HAVE created something, and perhaps somewhere, someone will find beauty in it. And through that, I am able to add beauty to another person’s life.

fear and ambition

I’ve talked about struggling with a lack of motivation and a desire for greatness. It’s a terrible combination.

But I’m here today to talk about a different aspect of ambition … it’s partly linked to my previous post. I’m talking about fear and ambition.

I have many goals I want to achieve and possible career paths to follow and knowledge I want to attain and ideas I want to realize. But so many of them require a huge amount of hard work, knowledge, talent, creativity, and effort.

And I think, I can’t possibly expect that I can gain that knowledge and that I have that talent and creativity and that I’ll be able to put in that hard work and effort.

I’ll leave it to someone else to do it … someone better, more qualified than I am.

And it’s partly motivated by laziness, this impulse, but it’s also motivated by fear.

Because … what if I can’t EVEN if I try?

Wouldn’t that be the most demoralizing? So it’s better to just not try.

Excuses. They’re all excuses.

I find it very hard to believe in myself. I am afraid … fucking terrified … that I can’t achieve anything that I wish. I know I won’t achieve everything because there simply isn’t enough time. But I’m terrified that I won’t be able to achieve just one. I’m terrified of the confirmation of my own incompetence.

But you know what? Fuck that fear. It’s pride. I don’t want to see how lousy I can be. But trying will do nothing for my goals other than bring me closer to them. Maybe I still won’t reach them but what’s the harm in that if I wasn’t even going to try in the first place?

I want to shoot for the stars. Goddamit I really do. I always have. But I shy away from it because I’m a coward and I’m proud and yes, I’m really fucking lazy and I lack resilience and I lack willpower.

But I’m still here and I’m still dreaming … in the rare moments when I forget myself and let myself dream.

So today I make the resolve to stop letting realism dictate my actions. I’ve always been a rather practical realistic person. It’s always been about what is possible and what is probable and what I can expect. And I really thought, I’m just being realistic and that’s a good thing because it saves me from disappointment.

No, it doesn’t. Because I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed at how much I think I need to limit myself and at how much I let myself be limited.

I can be a bit of an all or nothing girl. So if I’m going to have a goal … I want to have confidence in it or I simply won’t do it. Because I don’t have confidence, I need something else to put all into … I need some other 100 percent. For me, that has to be determination. That means putting my all into it. I don’t want to put in all and receive nothing to show for it.

If I choose a smaller goal, I could put in all and be sure to receive something to show for it.

At the end of the day, we all have one life. We can choose how we spend it. And yet, I think that if we’re going to die anyway, maybe it doesn’t really matter so much if we don’t reap rewards.

I would rather risk it and know that I chanced that my all was enough.

Hiding my face in a paper bag

I have this thing where whenever someone I don’t know tries to talk to me, I feel the irresistible urge to run away. To hide my face in a paper bag and never see them again.

It’s not that I hate people. I love people. I love human interaction. I think I’m a people person.

It’s just … I’m terrified. Terrified of people. Terrified of not being good enough. Terrified of being boring, annoying, or offensive and driving people away. I’m terrified and incredibly intimidated of people.

In real life, I can’t run away. I mean, I suppose I could in the literal sense but that would be a little bit awkward … But even so, I can’t completely avoid people. I go to school and see the same classmates every week so I’m forced to somehow endure the terror of social interaction and eventually I become friends with these people and it’s not so scary anymore.

But it’s different online. When the interaction is online, running away becomes a plausible and quite tempting option.

I don’t have the greatest online track record.

I abandoned my old blog without a single warning … Just disappeared from the blogosphere.

I abruptly stopped emailing my penpal even though she’s been there for me when I needed her and we had gotten quite close at one period.

I started a business of Fiverr and forgot all about it. When two people bought my service and gave bad reviews because I forgot to deliver, I put my account on hold and vowed never to use it again.

When people talked to me on Twitter or I tagged people, I logged out of my account for three months.

When I comment on people’s blogs, I don’t always check for replies especially if I said something heartfelt or particularly meaningful to me.

Sometimes I do things online that I later regret or I write about something controversial or extremely personal. And that’s usually … relatively ok, because it’s online. I can just abandon my account, or blog, or whatever platform. I do post pictures of myself sometimes, but I have an alias, and separate social media linked with my pen name.

This time around, it’s a little bit different. I linked my personal social media to this blog, for instance. Should I have? I don’t know. To be honest, the main reason I linked the accounts was so I could have those pretty icons on my sidebar, and I didn’t want to start separate accounts for my writing persona because it’s just too much haste and too hard to maintain. And that’s a legit reason. I also used my own email for my blog.

If I ever want to abandon this blog, I could just transfer my email account so I can start a new one, but again it’s a lot of hassle. And if I begin mixing the lines between personal social media and the blogosphere, it’s going to be harder to hide.

But I mean, I’m scared. Chances are, I’m going to do something I regret and wish I could change my name, wear a paper bag on my head, and move to a different planet rather than face up to it. And I guess the truth is, online relationships don’t matter all that much to me. That does make me sound cold, I know. I guess it just doesn’t feel as important as my IRL relationships so it always gets put on the back burner and I end up abandoning online friends and personas because I don’t care enough. That does make me feel like a terrible person.

I don’t even know what my point is … I guess it’s just to say that it’s nice being anonymous and having a blog where nobody reads what you write, and nobody comments … At the same time, I do like interacting with people online. I’m just not sure how far I’m willing to go with it. And I don’t want to end up being rude and yes, I’m terrified of driving anybody away.

But I guess I’ll try … try to be a bit more brave and run away less.