//thoughts on balance + honesty

I realized, soon into my semi-hiatus, that I wasn’t taking a break from the internet so much as my internet persona. The experiment has shed light on several areas of personal interest to me, but one of the most prevalent things the semi-hiatus has shown me is how little people actually know me. Even those I have known for years have shown, as I stepped away from my perceived ‘image,’ that they know a vague idea of me but do not actually, in fact, know who I am.

And this is largely nobody’s fault but mine, if indeed it is a ‘fault.’ I’ve been blogging since I was thirteen – through some of my most formative years, and while I wouldn’t trade that for anything, the experience has given me a kind of ‘split personality,’ a division between myself and my internet alter-ego. As I grew older, I developed a sense of responsibility toward maintaining my persona, and respecting the boundary between my real self and my perceived self. This is a tricky thing, as I earnestly try to be as genuine as possible in both areas. It’s asking a paradox of myself, and this paradox places a wall between myself and most other people.

For the most part, this is okay with me. I’m not the kind of person who can handle more than a few extremely close friends (read: two). Even those I count as my good friends know very little about me. Occasionally people express interest in becoming close with me, and my automatic response is ‘Sure!’ but I’ve discovered that’s not actually what I want. It leads to spreading myself far too thin, and I simply can’t maintain that level of personal intimacy with many people.

People make statements about knowing me well, and each time I feel a slight pang of guilt, because I’ve allowed them to think it’s true. It doesn’t happen intentionally. I never wake up with the thought, ‘Today I’m going to think they really know who I am while actually keeping myself from them.’ It simply happens, because I have created a persona outside of myself. I enjoy having this persona for on very simple reason: I often receive messages from people telling me how encouraging or uplifting that persona is to them. It helps people. I help people, or I brighten their day, or I give them something to think about. It’s what I do. But it is not always who I am.

My persona enjoys attention and is always up for a conversation with anyone. My persona is pretty pictures or dolled-up selfies, sketches or funny anecdotes from the day. People assume I’m extroverted, a social butterfly.

Me? I hate being the center of attention. I’ve been going through a little-to-no makeup phase during my semi-hiatus, which means selfies are much less forthcoming. My life is not all funny anecdotes – and while I laugh often, I also cry often. I have a huge sense of humor, but wrapped inside that sense of humor is a grave and serious person that many people don’t see, because I don’t let many people see it. I’m intensely introverted and spend more time reading history or behavioral psychology than I do reading fiction.

This separation of my two selves is something I’ve given much thought to over the past month, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. The line, however, tends to grow so blurred occasionally that I’m not sure where I stop and my persona begins, and during my ‘time away’ I’m slowly re-building that line so I can take care of them both without the stress of confusion and self-identity theft. I’m re-learning not to let my persona rob me of myself, and I’m realizing I need to do this at least once a year, possibly twice. Extracting one from the other has proven borderline excruciating and has kept me up nights, attempting to untangle the knots I’ve accidentally created.

Can I be genuine without showing all of myself? I think so. Can I upkeep a persona that is me, but only part of me? I think so. And I’m okay with that – in fact, should I ever achieve a fluid balance between the two, I will be extremely happy. But for now, I will continue to strive for honesty and balance, and I would like you to know that I care about you. Me. Myself. I care about you, but I cannot be all of myself with you.

So here’s to balance, honesty, and a continual reach for the two.

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16 thoughts on “//thoughts on balance + honesty

  1. I get this, I do something similar. I keep most of myself and my life off the internet, it’s like people get the highlights. The best of, and it makes people assume you and your life are a certain way. At least you are aware of it and honest with yourself. :D

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Awareness is usually the starting point for improvement, or so I’ve found. Unfortunately, awareness can be itchy and uncomfortable, but I guess that’s what makes us move to change something.

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  2. I’ve noticed this with you, honestly. I didn’t know how to say something without making it sound harsh. The only problem is when people think they know you and then you kind of back away from the relationship without saying much and they go, “wait; did I do something wrong?”. But I understand that because I’m the same way and I’ve done the same thing. I’m hardly myself with anyone and I like to be alone a lot because smiling and being energetic all the time is exhausting – whether in person or on the internet. It’s not a bad thing to take care of yourself. You have to. Like you said, though, it’s hard finding a balance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m working on a followup post discussing what didn’t make it into /this/ post that should be more clarifying/hopefully help with this somewhat. <3 And yes, simply 'backing away' without explanation is absolutely the wrong thing to do, for both parties.

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      1. Yeah, but it’s awkward – especially when one person (or both) is just exhausted, you know? And then sometimes it’s like, “well, maybe I’m reading into it too much” and whatnot. But I appreciate you, just so we’re solid on that. ;) <3 xoxo

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  3. What a very interesting post and idea… I think I know what you mean, at least on some level. My internet “persona” is a very upbeat, friendly person, who tries to be sunshiney because I make a decision that there is enough stress and badness and grouchiness on the internet, so I want to be an uplifting person online instead of one who drags people down, even unconsciously. It doesn’t take effort to be “happy” online because it’s just words. Words are super powerful, and they can portray a certain emotion. I do the same thing when I’m with friends: I’m happy. But when I’m at home, when I’m the real me, I don’t have any masks (or… maybe some) and I’m just… me. Which isn’t necessarily a good me because I struggle with things too, and it’s hard to be happy and right and uplifting all the time because we’re all flawed people. But I don’t tend to think much about the separation of real-me and internet-or-with-friends-persona me. So this was a thought-inducing post! I think it’s not bad to have a persona, because if everyone knew the deepest shadowiest grittiest realest versions of everyone else, it would not necessarily be a good idea, and it would also take away the gift that is letting a few close friends and family members in on the “real” you, because if everyone knew, it wouldn’t be special. And it’s also good to present a person who is helpful, maybe? We can’t be 100% “us” all the time, especially online. I love that you’re thinking about this and trying to work it out and being honest about it to yourself and to us. It’s one of the things I love about you. :) You’re very open and deep and not afraid to also tell us that you’re a different kind of deep or not necessarily open… We’re all paradoxes inside puzzles wrapped up in enigmas or something like that, and that’s one of the beautiful things about human beings.

    …Sorry for the ramble. Apparently you inspire my thoughtful side. XD

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  4. Thanks for sharing, Mirriam! I would guess I’m the kind of acquaintance who would fall into this category, as we became online friends due to shared interests & a few mutual friends. I have definitely been blessed by your open welcome & friendly inclusion.

    Blogging, writing, making yourself public in any way is tough! It’s a privilege to hear about the behind the scenes part.

    I’ve found that life often provides transitions which create the necessary “turning over the internal compost”, but kudos for the self-awareness to take a conscious break & refocus. Praying it was, and continues to be a healthy experience.

    I hope we do get to meet IRL some day, & thanks for responding to my msgs about Ice Fantasy which likely were less than helpful during this process. ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right now I’m replying to the messages I have time for and am interested in responding to, so your questions were not unhelpful in ANY way, so don’t you dare think I felt pressured into replying to that. No, no, nO, madame. <3

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  5. I think I understand this…or part of it….but I’m not sure. I think I have a persona, (or at least that seems how some people see me) but I’ve been so tired (and scared of late) I’ve been too tired to put up a mask, and I’m afraid I’ve too honest. And then I worry about how people will think of me if I show them I’m not always happy, helpful, bouncy me. Thanks for your interesting and insightful post! :) (I’ve occasionally wondered if I needed some kind of online disconnect or detox myself, but never been quite sure what or how.)

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  6. <3 I went through a time of feeling very, very fractured. There was medical student me, where no one knew who I was and I just studied and tried to keep my brain from imploding…online me, who blogged about randomness and serious topics and pinned all the things I liked, but who only shared myself after I'd gotten things figured out or fixed, the other me, who liked a million things but rarely told anyone lest they dislike me…I felt like I had DID and the number of "me's" I was trying to juggle was driving me nuts. It wasn't intentional…I had just emphasized a part of myself and it had slipped away from me.
    It is hard to sort through, to reconnect yourself and find out how to be /yourself/ without overemphasizing or losing pieces of what makes you /you/…and at the same time be comfortable with the fact that /you don't have to share every piece of yourself with every person/…but it is marvelously worth it. You can give a genuine smile to someone and remain fully clothed. You can be open, like you are here, like you've been so often, like I've loved about your blog posts for years…but you don't have to share the intimacy you have with those closest to you with everyone, or turn into the Cheshire cat just because everyone wants another smile. That'll make you disappear all together.
    Perhaps because I've been through it myself, this post did not surprise me at all…and I think you share far more than you realize of both selves. Which may make reintegration easier. :) You'll get there, my dear. *hugs*

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  7. Oh dear… no need for guilt, the shame that climbs. No need for disappointment’s prick or fear to fail.

    We all do as you have have done there. Few have splayed themselves out for all to see bare.

    We see liveliness, loveliness, and amazing talents. We see words that reach to our souls.

    I, for one, think you are a precious friend, no matter the weaknesses, strengths, doubts or fears that remain in the wings of who you are.

    You are a household name in my home, because you are still part of what you have shown.

    Even if you feel it is not all that you are, Aren’t we all learning more- daily- about others, and ourselves?

    (Yeah, ummm… the rhyming… I couldn’t get it out of me brain. So… this major introvert in extrovert’s clothing really does see what you mean and why, and the concerns and cares of it all.

    You are not alone in this. Hopefully you see my affection through my making a rhyming fool of myself on the world wide web. It is ok. Feel free to smile. I hope you do… )

    ((Hug))

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  8. I think everyone does this. And were doing it long before the internet. It’s one of the reasons I often struggle with “If you knew who I really am, you’d run screaming in the opposite direction”

    Does this mean I’m an ogre? No. No it doesn’t. But there are very few people in my life who actually know me. Everyone puts on a mask in public (public being anytime you interact with anyone but Christ). I often find myself changing when I’m around different sets of friends. A certain facet of myself rolls into more predominance depending on who I am with. I’m not making it up, it’s just that they like or expect or enjoy that part of my personality and it meshes best with theirs.

    I have about four or five people, a long standing friend being one of them, that actually have a pretty complete picture of who I am, warts and all. But I’ve interacted with hundreds, maybe thousands of people and acquaintances over the years (retail) And I’m pretty well liked. That’s okay. I’m not who they think I am, but the part of me they’ve seen, is true. Is that making sense? They know only a part of me but think they know me. And that’s not true.

    Personally, I’m glad that you have an internet you and a true you. It’s smart. Its savvy. But I don’t think that the persona is separate. I think like me it’s a facet of you. But like the facet of a gem, its flat. Sometimes we might get a glimpse of the heart of the gem through the facet but it’s well protected. And that’s just plain smart.

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  9. I get this. I really do. I’m one of those people whose an ambient (both introverted and extroverted… and I can switch between the two on a dime). I feel like my Internet persona is similar to what I show people in my real life… but it’s not the me I am when I’m alone or with my family. It’s part of me perhaps… I like to be honest, and lately in an attempt to think better of myself, I’ve tried to be more open and honest about who I am… BUT I have always felt that what I show others is mostly just a part I play instead of who I truly am. I have a few close friends, but often I feel that even they don’t know the true and real me and I’d be worried of scaring them off if they did. Of my friends… maybe three know more about me than anyone else. And you know, I think they still get a mask most of the time… perhaps a thinner mask than others get, or a half mask instead of a full one, but it’s still a mask. It’s the person I am when I’m around other people… it’s not necessarily the real me.

    It’s confusing… I can’t really separate the two. But yeah… I get it.

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