“BAM!” I screamed as I finished writing the answer. I proceeded to let myself fall on the floor when my algebra teacher told me I needed to write out the equation on the board.
Needless to say, I was very eccentric during my middle school years.
I used to internally cringe about this memory nearly every night as I tried falling asleep. There was a time when I was proudly awkward and cringey, but that’s diminished over the years. In high school, I became reserved because I knew I didn’t fit in—so I didn’t make an effort to. I decided to keep my quirks to myself.
My personality in my home state, Texas, can be narrowed down into three characteristics: studious, awkward, and introverted. On paper and in my head this seemed like the worst combination ever, because it wasn’t going to offer me new experiences to grow.
After reflecting during the summer before my freshman year at BC, I had decided that I didn’t want to continue the same lifestyle I had in Texas. So like every other college freshman, I decided to start fresh and make a complete 180 here. Fortunately, I was able to accomplish this by putting myself in uncomfortable situations like joining clubs, going to a couple of parties, and approaching people before they approached me first.
Now, at BC, my personality can be narrowed down into three characteristics: outgoing, studious, and well-liked. I know this sounds like a success story, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Through all these interactions I started to lose grasp on who I was.
I think back to my time in Texas and I truly believe I was at my happiest in middle school, cringey-ness and all. Where did THAT girl go? If I’m being honest, she started leaving when I began to hide my character during high school because one of my friends constantly told me that he got second-hand embarrassment from watching me just be me. This comment has stuck with me, even now when I’m constantly overthinking about how others perceive me.
I’m not a people pleaser—I know how to say no—but I want everyone to like me. I’m the person who forces a laugh even when I don’t find something funny, who chooses silence around controversial topics, and who likes to be liked by everyone. I want to be just the right amount of funny, relatable, smart, fun, and thought-provoking. As I try to be all these things at once, I lose my authenticity—my own quirky personality.
I’ve placed myself in an endless existential identity crisis. How much of me is for other people?
This all seems silly—imagine not being able to answer “who are you” or “what do you like” after 18 to 20 years on this floating rock.
In all seriousness, I actually did lose myself somewhere in between Texas and BC. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve lost yourself too. This very matter has brought me to tears at times. It’s easy to forget that you can reintroduce yourself to yourself and others at any time regardless of being in the same location surrounded by the same people.
Of course the pessimistic voice inside my head reminds me that I’ve already established myself with everyone and that changes in my persona may raise some eyebrows and questions. In response, the eternal optimist in me grounds me. This reintroduction doesn’t have to happen now, but when it does, the quality of my life will improve, and I decide when I want to start. One has to make peace with the idea that not everyone is for them and they’re not for everyone. You’ll be happier. Trust me.