What You See Ain’t All There Is

What you see is what you get. That’s a good description of me provided that it’s put into the context of me not putting on airs or presenting some false version of myself. In other words, I don’t change myself to fit in with what’s fashionable.

Do I mute some personality attributes while bringing out others to better fit the group of people I’m engaging with? Sure. That’s only good sense in order to better communicate and get along with a group. But that doesn’t mean I completely alter my personality to fit in. I don’t take on new traits or completely obliterate entire bits of myself.

What you see is what you get.

But I’ll be the first person to tell you that I don’t show everything.

I’m a very secretive person. I admit that. There are just some bits of myself that I don’t feel comfortable presenting to the world, some thoughts and ideas and feelings that I think are best kept to myself.

At least I think I keep them to myself. Sometimes I feel completely transparent when these thoughts or feelings bubble too close to my surface. I think everyone can see them. I try not to panic as I try to nonchalantly push them back down, but I feel like I’m just drawing more attention to what I’m trying to hide.

These aren’t big personality flaws I’m hiding. They’re not huge, image changing ideas I’m keeping to myself. They’re just little things I’d rather keep to myself. Little secrets that I don’t think anyone else needs to know. Because while they’re not huge image changing things, they are image changing things. Little tweaks maybe that would make people see me in a slightly different light.

But I’m not comfortable with that. Not yet anyway. It’s more comfortable for me to keep the secret.

I’ve known all of this for a while, but it’s really been brought into sharper focus recently as I’ve been working on a personal essay for a contest. I’m writing about something that I’ve only ever put into words before in the privacy of my journal. I wouldn’t think to discuss it with anyone else. And yet, the prospect of having total strangers read it doesn’t bother me. I suppose that’s because they’d only be judging me on my writing, not on the content of it. And even if they did judge the content, well, they’re strangers, aren’t they? I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the aftermath, wouldn’t have to answer any questions and pretend not to be affected by the funny looks.

It’s funny how I am perfectly willing to open up a vulnerable bit of myself to someone I don’t know in the context of writing for a contest, but I’d never dream of telling my closest friend the same thing. I think it’s the emotional distance involved in the former that I find comforting. That and the only fallout I’m concerned with is whether or not I win the contest in question.

It’s not that I want to keep myself emotionally closed off from my friends and family. I’m just not good with emotions. They’re messy, illogical things (sort of like teenagers, now that I think about it), and I’m just more comfortable keeping some of mine under tight reign and out of sight.

So, I keep bits of me secret.

I guarantee that what you do see is definitely what you get, though. Position yourself just right and who knows? You might end up seeing a little more.

Journal Crazy

My mother gave me a journal as part of the now defunct “Aunt Kiki” holiday. Pretty and purple, the script on the cover says “Me, Myself, and I: An Instrospective Collection of My Innermost Thougths and Feelings” and the design features three faces in a knotwork ontop of a silver diamond, and it sat for a month before I wrote in it.

In that first journal I admitted that part of my hestance wasn’t just marring a pristine page; I was afraid to remove my innermost thoughts from the safety of my brain. Out of my head, they could be exposed to prying eyes with no respect for privacy and judged harshly. Worse, out of my head, they could be real.

The reluctance is evident in that first journal. First of all, I didn’t use it much. The entries begin July of 2003 and end January 2008. Nearly five years. Secondly, there’s a sense of holding back in some of the earlier entries. I was too scared to put down everything into words, all the thoughts, all the emotions, all the crazy bouncing around in my head.

You can see me get more comfortable with opening up over the course of the entries in that first journal. I got better at it and I did it more frequently.

My second journal I believe Carrie bought me as a birthday present. It’s rainbow colored, cheerful and simple, and I’d say it has about as many pages as my first one. The entries in it cover from January of 2008 until December of 2009.

Yeah, I got a lot better at writing in it more often. I started using it more as it was intended. Instead of being afraid of putting my thoughts down on paper, it became THE place to put my thoughts to get them out of my head. It became the refuge of my frustrations, mostly. It let me get the things off of my chest that other people wouldn’t, mostly because the ensuing arguement would be pointless and solve nothing.

It also became the locked box for the mushiest part of my heart, allowing me to explore those sweet, vulnerable feelings I don’t like to admit I have. There are some romantic ideas in those pages. Ideas that would absolutely shock the people who know me as the horror loving hard-ass that make men cry for their mothers and make women try to befriend me so I won’t eat them.

My last journal was red. That’s it. Just red. The entries cover from December of 2009 to January of this year. This is the journal I got truly comfortable in. This is the journal I put my craziest thoughts in. I gave myself permission to be absolutely ambitious and hopeful and unrealistic and unrestrained. There is some serious, wild insanity on those pages and to date, if there were any journals I’d burn before my death, that would be the first one on the fire.

Since that first journal, I’ve moved from being reluctant to dependent. I did my last entry in my red journal on my birthday with no new journal waiting for me. I’m slowly moving into frantic mode. I have things to write down, thougths that need ink! I’ve gone from not even shrugging at the idea of missing a couple of months to feeling guilty if I only have two entries for a given month.

Right now, I’m thinking about all of the things, good, bad, and crazy, I want to put in my new journal as soon as I get it. I fantasize about marring those clean pages with the inner workings of my mind. It’s going to feel so good to get all of that out.

And with any luck at all, in thirty years I’ll be able to read back over those stored thoughts and marvel at how I functioned, coped, struggled, and felt during those important years, some of which may be lost to the sands of time by then.

More likely, though, I’ll just shake my head and laugh and think, “Wow. You were really kinda nuts back then, weren’t you?” before putting down my old journal and picking up a new journal to scribble once again.