In Hiding

March 13, 2012

“We are so accustomed to disguising our true nature from others, that we end up disguising it from ourselves.”

La Rochefoucauld

For a long time, I’ve known that I reveal different aspects of myself to different people. There are certain acceptable activities and topics of conversation with each group of friends and family, certain facets of my personality, likes and dislikes, that appear and disappear as needed. Like a chameleon changing colors to blend into her surroundings, I’ve become good at fitting in. Only a very few get to see most of me, and possibly no one has ever seen all of me, even my husband of 24 years. I don’t go so far as to do or say things I don’t believe in, but I keep in hiding aspects of myself I feel either would not be interesting to the other person or that might make them think less of me—not because I think whatever-it-is is boring or unacceptable, but because I think the other person does.

There are times when this is acceptable social behavior. Every single person does not need to know every single thing about me. But what if I’m only hiding myself because I want people to like me? How can people like me if they don’t know me? I have to accept that if I allow others to see me, all of me, some of them won’t like me. But some of them will, and it’s much better to have people like you for who you are than to try to change who you are so they will like you. This sounds to me like a lesson I should have learned long ago—but somehow it has escaped my notice until now.  Why now? Because of something that “asked” to be put on my vision board for 2012:

 I’m not sure yet what this will mean for me. I think it might mean taking more chances in my writing life, figuring out what I want and asking for it instead of just making do, not waiting for something to happen but taking charge and making it happen. Guarding my inner life a little less closely.

All my chameleon-like behavior sometimes leaves me wondering what, exactly, I do want or believe. Like La Rochefoucauld says, too much disguising can cut me off from an understanding of my true self. In some ways, I am still figuring out who I am. There are many things I’m still learning, many points of view I’d like to understand. 

Writing for this blog has helped me expose more of myself to the world than I would have felt comfortable doing in the past, even though, of course, it doesn’t express all of me, either. It has helped me think through and express some of my beliefs and opinions—sometimes opinions I didn’t know I had or had not yet put into words. I expect I’ll continue to write my way out of hiding because that’s just something that I do. (Thank you for coming along on the journey!)

Do you hide parts of yourself? What is the cost and what are the benefits of hiding?

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  1. I think everyone has different personas they show to the world based on the environment and social obligations of each situation. I don't think it's possible to know ourselves completely as I think most of us are a work-in-progress, always changing.

    I hide less of myself today than I did 5 years ago, but there is still parts that are hidden. Probably always will be as I don't have a real desire to be completely and totally known by anyone.

    Is there a cost, yes, but as to what it is and how much is difficult to say. I think part of the benefit is that as ever-evolving creatures, we have the element of surprise and delight on our side (or dismay and worry depending on what we reveal) when we choose to reveal something unknown about ourselves.

    I do think that if someone loves me for who they know me to be that it's not likely they're going to go screaming off into the night if they are suddenly exposed to a deeper, darker part of me. And if they do, they were never really a friend to begin with.

  2. What a beautifully thought out and articulated comment. There are certainly appropriate levels of revelation, and as we get to know others better, we can feel more comfortable revealing deeper parts of ourselves.

  3. I really like this post, Kathy. I think that blogging is very therapeutic, because we are not only journaling, we are putting ourselves out there. My family and friends know who I am, so no, I don't think that I am hiding.

    Still, others are on a need to know basis. I used to tell people too much, giving those that are manipulators a better opportunity to practice their craft. The older that I get, the better I am to know who to tell what too.


    Kathy M.

  4. I agree with Laure when she says that everyone hides parts of themselves - and I think that is necessary, or at least normal. Casual acquaintances don't need to know all about you, while family and close friends do need to know more about you - although not necessarily everything. And yes, we are always changing too, so even if someone knows most of us today, that doesn't mean they will know most of us tomorrow. You have such a wonderful way of expressing yourself too!

  5. Kathy--I sometimes work out what I really think about something by either talking it over with someone or writing it out. Sharing it on the blog is kind of the same.

    You make a good point about not giving too much information to people who will use it against you, too.

  6. Thank you, Cheryl! Hopefully as we change and mature we learn who needs to know what and act accordingly.