Authentic people are my favorite. When I say authentic, I mean people who are aware of their feelings, motivations, desires, etc. and are largely transparent with them. People who react genuinely, without filtering or overprocessing the thought first.
And when I say they’re my favorite, what I mean is
that they fucking fascinate me. I mean it. I watch them with the same wonder and intrigue one of those National Geographic people watches a faraway tribe with, noting their customs, speculating as to what is really going on.
The thing that I’ve noticed that impresses/confuses me the most is the seeming lack of space between the feeling and the expression. That’s not to imply that things are blurted out without consideration. It isn’t that at all. It’s different, and it’s something that’s always eluded me.
If they’re upset, you can tell. By the look on their face or their mannerisms or whatever else. And then you can ask them what’s wrong and they’ll tell you (or not. Their call). Same deal if they’re happy, or angry.
That’s not me.
I feel like I’m always “on”. It’s been going on for so long that I don’t know how to be off anymore. I don’t know how to drop the cheery loud persona I’ve been clinging to for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, especially when I’ve been thinking about it more, I’ll try really really hard to just let myself be whatever the fuck I really am. It doesn’t work.
I’ve laid bed sobbing while making dick jokes on Twitter. I’ve gone through shifts at work wondering how my smile hasn’t cracked. I’ve comforted and consoled others when I can barely hear them over the sound of my world falling apart. Chances are, if we’ve interacted in the past week or two, I’ve been a hot fucking mess the whole time, no matter how lighthearted the conversation seemed. Sometimes I let that be the distraction that snaps me out of it for a bit, but sometimes it’s just because I don’t know how to be outwardly genuine with my own feelings.
A little while back a friend of mine asked me how I was doing. I know the answer to this. I know what to do here. I go with a generic, “I’m alright, can’t really bitch,” or something to that effect. Simple, admits that everything isn’t sunshine and roses but I’m clearly doing just fine, right? Right??
Then he asks me how I’m feeling.
I freeze. Right there. Granted, this was over text so I had a minute, but still! I don’t do well with questions I don’t know the answer to. I just don’t. I play so many conversations through my head and think about so many things ahead of time that it’s really hard to catch me off guard conversationally. For the most part I’m very deliberate, measured. I don’t say many things I don’t realize I’m saying.
How am I feeling? Are you kidding? There’s no simple response to that. It was clearly a genuine question meant to break through my glib shit, but even then.. How much truth do you want? I keep my life so compartmentalized, it stands to reason that (with only a couple exceptions) no one really knows everything that’s going on at any given point. I just don’t like talking about myself that much (which I understand the irony of, given that I write a blog that’s almost exclusively about myself).
So, do I tell you all of the backstories that inform how I’m feeling? Do I just list feelings and let you ask your own questions? This is where I’m really just shit, interpersonally. I’m great in a group, or casually, and I’m great at really really close, deep, conversations. I mean it. Come find me and tell me you want to delve into some serious ish, I’m your girl. I will talk about anything and tell you things about myself that will make your head spin without even blinking an eye. But that middle ground, man. I have a hard time figuring out what’s appropriate.
Someone I would consider “authentic” would not very likely have this problem. This is what really intrigues me the most. I’d love to be like that. I’d love to know how to answer a question as simple as “how are you feeling?” I just don’t know how to get there from here. I’ve kept massive life crises all to myself for as long as I can remember just because I didn’t know how to talk about them.
On some level, it just feels selfish. I don’t know what kinds of problems you’re having, and I don’t want to waste your time with mine. I also don’t want to blast you with more than you bargained for. Most people only ask you how you’re doing to be polite anyway. Even in a friend situation, just because they’re asking doesn’t mean they’re up for all of it. Lastly (sort of), what if I have a real problem later and need you then?
I ended up saying that I didn’t know how to answer the question, and I have awesome friends so that was the end of it, but it bothers me that I can be asked a genuine, fairly straightforward question about myself and just be totally stumped. Yes, I am putting wayyyyyy more thought into this than I need to, but that’s the fucking problem.
One day I’ll get the hang of this, I’m sure.