The biggest struggle that comes with finding yourself is teaching others about the new you. Or rather, the you you are already that you’re now more comfortable sharing with others.
I am a laid back person by default. I don’t like to start or be involved in drama, I keep to myself, and overall, I’m an introverted individual. Introversion, however, does not mean lacking interest in diverse topics or lacking passion for various ideologies (but that’s a whole ‘nother post for another day). I am a strong believer in rooting for the underdog and working with underprivileged people to help them. Though I may not show it outwardly, I can get as angry or as sad as anyone else when faced with adversity.
Just because I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve doesn’t mean I don’t have one.
But what gets me most upset is when people – especially those close to me – invalidate my feelings or my reactions because to them, that’s “not me.” In reality, that’s not their perception of me. That’s not what they expect me to do.
I can’t count how many times I’ve defied other people’s expectations of me, and in return, I’ve been patronized with the line: “you’re not acting like yourself.”
Well, of course I am. It’s just not a side you see very often.
And therein lies the problem. We characterize people once we get to know them (often before) and place them in this rigid bubble where even they, after proving time and time again they’ve changed, cannot escape. Like everything else in life, I think we need to approach our relationships with others as malleable. So frequently we say, “change is a constant,” and yet reject it when it appears. Of course, I recognize this is the human condition and we are creatures of comfort.
Nonetheless, due to this type of behavior, it’s easy to feel trapped in your own body. Despite working hard to better yourself, to be less of X and more of Y, the people around you look down on whatever it is you bring (new or renewed) because to them, that’s out of the realm of their expectations for/of you.
I struggle with this every day. I will continue to struggle with this. And I know others struggle with it, too. Whether introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter.
Don’t let others trap you inside yourself. Defy their expectations and defy your own by continuing to grow.