All of us behave differently in different circumstances. For introverts, the gap between our private and public personas can be especially vast. While we might be reserved, quiet and serious around acquaintances, we can be quite the opposite with our most cherished friends. Does this make us two-faced or fake?
A couple of years ago, one of my closest friends told me that a number of our acquaintances said that they thought I was shallow or snobby when they first met me. You would think that hearing this would make me upset, but my reaction amounted to little more than a shoulder shrug and a “meh, nothing I haven’t heard before.”
Like most introverts, I am accustomed to people misreading me. It started in elementary school when a supply teacher assumed I was an ESL (English as Second Language) student because I was so quiet, and continued throughout adulthood.
People have also consistently underestimated my intelligence and capabilities because of my quiet, reserved nature. Being underestimated can be one of the greatest challenges we face as introverts. We all have an innate desire to be recognized and appreciated. If we’re not careful, we can become preoccupied with gaining approval from others. We want everyone to like us before we even consider whether or not we like them.
At times, I wondered if I should try harder to show everyone my other dimensions: my silly side, my soft side, my deep thoughts and emotions. Here is what I realized:
It is impossible to reveal the depth of our beautifully multi-faceted personality to each person we meet. This would be exhausting. Furthermore, not everyone is deserving of our vulnerability. Our vulnerability is a gift we share with a trusted few. As Doctor Brene Brown puts it, “You share with people who’ve earned the right to hear your story.” In other words, we shouldn’t go around flashing our emotional underpants at just anyone
Being selective with who we share our deepest emotions, thoughts and dreams with does not make us shallow or two-faced. It means we value quality over quantity and loyalty over popularity. If that leads some people to misunderstand or underestimate us, so be it.
“In other words, we shouldn’t go around flashing our emotional underpants at just anyone.” Haha, I could not have said it better myself! Love your blog, btw. 🙂
Haha, thanks! 🙂
I think the phrase “two-faced” is rather strong in this context, or sensationalist, if not wrong. To me, being
two-faced is about causing harm to another, intentionally or otherwise. If someone is shy or reserved with some people but not with you, or vice versa, it doesn’t mean they are being two-faced. Their behaviour is about their comfort level but it’s not actually hurting you per se. What would hurt is if they intentionally did something against you to your detriment (eg said nice things to your face and bad things behind your back). That’s generally the traditional understanding of what being two-faced is in my book. It’s an interesting article otherwise though.
glamrocks I agree with you 100%. The point of the post is to say that we aren’t two-faced.
“Not everyone is deserving of our vulnerability…”
Finally someone has put into words how I’ve been feeling all these years. People always ask why I don’t share everything with just anyone, and I didn’t know why either. I just never felt like they needed to know and that you had to earn that privilege.
Exactly, Nicole! Glad you can identify. 🙂
“If that leads some people to misunderstand or underestimate us, so be it.”
Love the article especially that unapologetic closing! I’ve felt guilty for behaving this way all my life and if not I end up hating those who judge me, who are mostly extroverts who are always asking for other people’s validation including mine. I grew up having this mentality that I’d rather be alone than be with people I don’t like and who will not be good for me, and yes I’m aware that it comes off as bitchy all the time but we all know it’s just another form of self-care. The good thing is that when we stay true to who we are those who are really attracted to our energy and want genuine connection will find their way towards us. No need to please everyone. The right people won’t question or judge us as well. They would just wanna be with us. There would be lonely times when we feel misunderstood and hated by others. The beautiful thing about our friendships is that they are usually deep and long-lasting, worthy of all the other times when we felt lonely.
Very well said. I always think, “I am not lonely, I am alone…and I enjoy my own company very much!” Such a huge difference between being lonesome and being in solitude.