I find it difficult to be myself

When I ask my significant other, “How should I act in this situation?” he always tells me to be myself (Like whaaaat. What even is that?). It’s a sweet thing for him to say :D. He likes who I am, he wants me to be me. But why is it so difficult? I have not heard of other people with as much difficulty acting as themselves. So even thought I feel really vulnerable sharing this, I want others to know that they are not alone. 

Why I find it difficult to just “be myself”:

  1. I find it too personal to show people how sensitive and emotional I can be.

  2. How can I be myself when no one can handle me?

  3. It is more natural for me to adapt my actions to each situation than to enter the situation as myself already.

  4. Sometimes, I really have no idea who I am :o

Can you relate to any of these thoughts? I’d love to hear about them. Send me your stories!

Now to explain what I actually mean for each of these. 

1. I find it too personal to show people how sensitive and emotional I can be.

I have found that the majority of people I interact with find my personality to be, how should I say this, ‘overwhelming’. ( I put air quotes because like come on! but people also overwhelm me so how can I judge?).  They say I laugh too much, smile too much and 'over-exaggerate.' When I find something truly funny, I laugh, stamp my feet, hit my thighs, and practically fall to the floor. People look at me as if I’ve gone insane, as if I’m acting inappropriately for finding being amused or joyful. Scoffs, sarcastic comments, even downright disses have been thrown my way.

In the moment, I feel as if I am acting on instinct, not thinking too much about why I say the things I say or do. If I ask someone how they are doing, I get a confused look. I find it truly baffling. Is the person surprised I picked up on their negative feelings, surprised that I actually asked about it, or is s/he wondering who the heck I am to be asking such a personal question? I have come to realize that the way I act and speak are completely different from the majority of people around me.

It feels awful to be around people who aren’t accepting of who I am.

Since my highly sensitive qualities keep me attuned to others' reactions, its hard for people to hide their true feelings from me.

It actually happens all of the time. I can notice really clearly the negative reaction on someones face when they don't like a person or what's being said and when I try to lightly ask what they are feeling, they have no idea they were reacting at all!

 An analogy I like to use is, imagine how you would feel if you were an artist surrounded by a bunch of scientists? Even though you may be equally inspiring and bright in your artistry, around scientists, you may feel inferior. Unfortunately there is no way for you to know if you are an artist surrounded by a bunch of scientist, without taking a step back and really paying attention to the people around you. Because being looking at things externally as opposed to internally is hard for us INFJs (Myers Briggs personality type), this type of confusion has caused me to hold back much of who I am to protect myself from the reactions of others. I rather keep my delight to myself when I buy a Reese’s peanut butter cup <3 or how happy it makes me when my dog won’t leave my side for hours on end.

If I keep the happiness to myself, then it is mine alone and no one can ruin it.

2. How can I be myself when no one can handle me?

If people are so confused by my reactions, then how can I listen to my instincts and be myself? The way I react is confusing to others so they don't know how to act in return. Many people act like shocked deer :O when I talk about my feelings. They do not know how to feel as strongly as I do. It's like my energy level is too intense and they slowly back away as if trying to get away form a hungry bear. 

If people are always running at the first sign of my true self, then why would I continue to push people away by being myself?

Now its story timeeeeee. One day, I ordered takeout for my family. I attempted to explain my that two sushi rolls went to this person, while two others when to this person. The person on the other end of the phone had not a clue as to what I was trying to explain. It seemed that my explanation was too detailed for the person to understand what I was saying. As if he was talking to a robot that didn't know how to string a proper sentence together. (Can you tell I was a bit annoyed? -_-). While I exaggerate the situation, I often have to remember that other people are not like me. Being different scares them and often confuses them. If I don’t want to be an alien or committed to a psych ward (for an inability to speak), I need to act in a way in which other people can understand. So no, I can’t just be myself. [I do not like to end on such negatives so let me say that I have created tips for dealing with lots of highly sensitive situations, if you'd like to know the answer to this one in a nutshell, message me in the comments section).

3. It is more natural for me to adapt my actions to each situation than enter the situation as myself already.

Because of my tendency to observe (highly sensitive qualities) and deeply understand probable outcomes certain situations might have (INFJ), I can often predict how a situation will play out (Is this the same for you or is my INFJ nature taking over?). Knowing the situation before I step into it, helps me act in a way that is comfortable for everyone and yields the desired outcome If I go into a room of cultured tech geniuses, I want to speak in my most sophisticated tone and bring up all of the new and fascinating innovations I have recently read about. If I go into a recording studio, I might want to brush up on new music and dress like I’m a character on Empire, because when in Rome right?

I suppose thinking all of this could sound like excessive or elaborate paths to take when going into a situation, but we're highly sensitive and I know you secretly think of these things too :) and its actually pretty cool! Knowing what’s to come helps me prepare for it. A girls’ night out is much different from a couple’s party. Each situation requires a tailored response. People are fluid and are made up of many different parts. I would love to be engaged in all of the situations I mentioned, but a different part of me might be dominant in each situation. I alone can decide how I would like to be perceived and act in such a way to promote that. Thinking of things like really helps me enjoy an event and feel good about how I was perceived. 

It helps to know what’s coming to know which “version” of me I want to be.

4. Sometimes, I really have no idea who I am.

I saved this one for last. It is the most vulnerable idea of the four and the most honest. With the ability to recognize what’s coming, act in a way to bring out the side of me I wish people to see, and act in a way to get a desired outcome, its easy to lose myself. It’s also very easy to get my wires crossed and not act the way I meant to. The connection to my instincts gets all tumbled and wrung out. This makes it difficult to be able to decide what to say and what to do.

There is also a difference between who I am and who I would like to be. I can act how I’d like to be as much as I want, maybe by being a social butterfly, but if I forget that I have limits, then I might stay out socializing for too long and snap at someone without meaning to because my introverted nature was crying for me to take care of myself, but I did not listen. Ultimately, that decision comes at a cost. Trying so hard to be something I’m not takes a toll on figuring out who I actually am. Being observant and perceptive can make separating my true self and the self that I want to show the world really challenging.

So what do you do about all of this?

How do you piece together all parts of me, all aspects, skills and traits?

I didn't.

Shock you a bit? Well its true. What I actually learned to do was to appreciate that I had so many skills. That being sensitive allowed me to connect and interact with so many different types of people from all walks of life. I could see the beauty and the worth in every single peson I met. Even those I did not like always reminded me to appreciate those I love more strongly.

We do not say, I love you, enough.

We do not say, my life would not be the same with out you, enough.

and we definitely do not say,

I love you just as you are. 

So why not say it to yourself? If it feels uncomfortable then its even more important for you to say it. It was unfamiliar to me too. And now, I don't even have to think about who I want to be. I appreciate whatever comes up and laugh at myself and others who might not don't understand. Remember Sensitive is Power. 

Look out for the next post: Tip two: Being okay means loving yourself. 

I would love to hear your highly sensitive battles. Contact me here.

Good luck and much love.