What factors block your self-expression the most? Insecurity. Intimidation. Feeling like other people can express the same things much better than I can. Not knowing when what’s happening in my head matters to people who aren’t me. Not knowing how whomever I’m expressing myself to will take what I’m saying. Worrying that what I mean as vulnerability is going to be taken as weakness, or that what I mean as a request is going to be taken as a demand, or that what I mean as a question will be taken as a call out.
I’m an overthinker by nature, which is why living in the digital world both helps me express myself and cripples my self-expression. I can spend whole minutes on a sentence when I’m gchatting, hours on an email, trying to get every word and every phrase exactly how I want it to sound. I can do everything possible to perfect what I want to say…and then never hit “send” or “publish.” I hesitate, and all of my doubts and fears and insecurities live in those moments of hesitation. My words are almost always about my feelings, and my feelings are the area of myself that most often feels too weighty to ask other people to bear. If I’m not careful, I can dismiss myself on other people’s behalves without giving them a chance to even hear me out.
I also find it difficult to talk about things that don’t feel good in my personal life with the relevant person(s) if I don’t see a clear solution to the things. I can’t fix everything, and it takes so much effort to talk about the things I don’t see fixes for. But I think I’ve been getting better about that, even if I often resort to having pre-conversations with other people before I talk to the relevant person.
What factors stifle your personality and natural instincts the most? “Should”s and “supposed to”s. ~Respectability politics, generally.~ Not liking to do things by myself. Nervousness. Self-doubt and self-deprication. Feeling like everyone is way cooler than me, and letting that feeling keep me from trying to connect with people. I don’t know how to join conversations in the middle, even with people I know and like, or to introduce myself in an interesting way among new people. I’m not always confident enough in what I bring to the table.
Among people I do have some sort of relationship with, not knowing precisely how real I can be with certain people, or in mixed company when I know some people well and others not as well or not at all. I have a wonderful circle of people around whom all of my guards and walls come down, and it is growing slowly, but that still means I’m at least somewhat guarded around most folks. Part of that comes from fear of being judged. Part of it just comes from the fact that we live in a world where people keep shit surface level until some point where it is determined that y’all can go deeper, and I have trouble finding exactly where that point is. When we haven’t stumbled across it early in a new acquaintanceship, I tend to give it up for lost forever. Also, exhibitionism is generally frowned upon in most social contexts, haha.
Feeling like I’m still figuring out what parts of my personality are consistent, fundamental things about me, and what vary with context. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m different people in different environments, but there are definitely sides of myself that shine more in certain settings.
In what areas of your life are you waiting for permission to be yourself? I feel like I have full permission to be everything that I am here in this space. I feel like I have full permission to be everything that I am with the following people: JJ, CC, KS, SO, BD, JB, BC, MJP, JA (even if she’ll pray for me), EY, KR, RN (who I need to catch up with), and FO, as well as with my revolving door of roommates, since they see everything anyway. There are people who used to be in that innermost circle and are no longer. This happens. Relationships ebb and they flow.
With everyone else and in pretty much every other space, there are some guards up, some walls I don’t want them to see around. I don’t know how many of them I’m waiting to be okay letting those guards and walls down for, though. Perhaps my mother. How do I know who I want to really be able to see me?