The Compulsive Confessor had this post where she makes a reference to the older hers. It’s so well written that I’m going to have to quote her on this:
What happens to old personalities? Do we fold them up and put them away among mothballs? Where are the mes that used to be? Maybe, like an onion, if I kept peeling layer after layer of myself off, I’d find the original me, the me I began with. On the other hand, the me that lurks closer to the surface is who I am now, for better or for worse, my personality has formed, and it’s hard to break yourself of it.
I also feel that around the time I hit 30 my personality had formed. I’m more confident in my own skin, not as adaptable as I used to be, more hard-edged. It’s the physical things like not drinking as much, going to bed earlier, not being comfortable in any bed but my own. But also the more intangible ones – not hanging about on the edge of a party, speaking up and yet talking less overall, not just going along with everyone else’s plan, making decisions and sticking to them, digging my heels in, being even less bothered what people think.
I think back to the older mes. As a young child I was reticent, almost friendless in school, and yet, talkative and cheerful around a chosen few. By the time, I hit secondary school, I managed to find my niche, never popular but not a complete nobody either, on the fringes of the popular, one of the smart but not completely geeky (I hope) ones.
In college I gained confidence , I discovered what I was passionate about and what I was good at (literature and writing) but I was still sort of on the edge of the party, a little socially awkward. My first boyfriend changed all that. I blossomed in the knowledge that someone could be so head over heels in love with me. It gave me a place from which to be myself. There were boys competing over me, granted boys from a very limited circle but I learnt what it was like to be the object of desire and it’s a sweet lesson to learn.
In my early 20s, I came into my own. I discovered my career and I discovered I was attractive to people beyond the small circle of my school friends and my building. I had always been guarded and cynical socially; suddenly, I just decided to let go. I’d take the lead in making conversation – I hated social niceties so I dispensed with them most often. If someone asked me ‘how are you?’, I told them how I was really. It had a surprising effect but it worked because they stopped saying superficial things to me as well. I’ve never been a great dancer but I didn’t care anymore. I flirted and I was flirted with everywhere I went. I would probably never be the centre of the party but I was no longer cringing in the corners any more. I was reveling in who I was and other people liked it too.
Well, most people. One of my close friends told me that she thought I had changed for the worse. That I seemed frantic and over-dramatic. Other people have told me I’m a drama queen . I think I’m more a person who likes to live in a story than an absolute drama queen. I’m too low maintenance to be a diva. But I do like a good turn of phrase. And I was very restless then and maybe people who were used to me being the sedate one weren’t prepared for this new more out-there me.
Things calmed down when I met V. I was living a fairytale and I played the role of princess. I allowed myself to be the dependent one, to be led by the hand. Ever since my first boyfriend, I’ve been pampered by the men in my life and by now, I saw it as my due. This might have been obnoxious but I can honestly say I gave as much as I got. Probably more. I toned down my public personality, I was no longer on the prowl. I met a lot of completely new people in a completely new cities and I realised I had lost the mojo of sociability somewhat. Nevertheless, I purred a lot.
What happens after happy-ever-after though? Things changed and I changed. First, I blazed like a meteor in a fury of drama – this time I was truly dramatic, more crazy and wild and violent than I knew I could be, a side of me only V saw because he was the object of it all. Then one day, I burned out.
Through it all, there have been things that have never changed. Since my earliest days to today, I’m cynical but a dreamer with an idealistic streak. I love a good argument, to play devils advocate, to see both sides of the coin almost endlessly. Yet, I like to get to the heart of the matter. I dislike the superficial and so I will never be the most social of people.
The past few years have seen me somewhat come full circle. I have folded more into myself. I’m more guarded about my feelings, about laying it all out there for people. I think before I speak. I am less confident of my reading of people and situations. Professionally, I strategise. Socially, I have less and less to say by way of polite conversation, sometimes I am literally tongue-tied, a blank. Being a mother has given me less time for other people and more focused on priorities.
In many of these things, but not all, I have been influenced by V who I realise is so like the old me. Only, he’s a guy and that is quite possibly a natural state for a guy to be. And he can rise to the occasion when the superficial is called for. I’m not sure about me – I still have a very feminine urge to lay it all out there – but with time and discipline, restraint has become almost natural and anyway, it’s a falling back into an old self.
So, what have your past personalities been? Where have they gone? Or have you always been the same?
PS: Read about MinCat’s metamorphosis here.