I spend a lot of time worrying about how I am perceived by others. I also spend a good deal more of my time hating the fact that I can't be myself. The frustrating thing about never knowing or never feeling like you are fully yourself is the fact that you are forever left uncertainty.
So you ask yourself questions, pose scenarios, try to understand others all in an attempt to 'fit-in' or at least to understand how you are perceived. Its exhausting work because ultimately you rarely get the chance to decipher what it means to simply be. The freedom have an emotion, a look, a movement and not dissect it is a luxury that I believe I have ever had.
It was made clear to me, very early on, that I was not my own person. That I was going to forever be a representative, and informant, a secret keeper, and an outsider. This is tough stuff for a kid to handle, and I did the best that I could with it. I didn't get any guidance with how to navigate the daily decisions, and what little guidance I got was sometimes naively disingenuous.
So I stuffed it down, pushed it all in and pulled a mask over what I could when I could. I got really good at performing for others. But I never felt like myself, I never felt safe. I gave up my childhood, my adolescence to the process of being that someone "else." When the pressure became too much I let it out in private ways. In ways that I hoped no one would notice, or if they did would think it attributable to something other than my frustration at simply being. Being a woman and taught that outward expressions of frustrations aren't acceptable I turned inwards, again. Self-destructive behavior is acceptable for a girl, and it became second nature.
I was blessed with a reprieve. A brief time when I got the taste of what it must be like to be someone other than who I am. I got to do things that I was certain I had been denied before because I spent so much of my life busying myself with the concerns of others. It may sound strange, but for a brief period I did what I wanted, my consequences were my own and I cared very little about what others thought. It was freedom.
Now that I look back on it, I wonder sometimes if this is what its like for most white people in America. You don't have to worry about the little mundane things, like whether or not something you say or write will be received as you meant it or if it will be contorted into some strange amalgam of emotions and perception. That your history is not directly related to your present. That you aren't yolked by a past that had nothing to do with you, and has no daily consequences in how people interact with you. To move about with the freedom of knowing that your actions are your own - and to have it so common to your everyday life that its a subconscious thought. That you don't have to think about the rest of the world, because you already think like you, and you know this deep in your bones as an irrefutable truth.
Now as an adult, I realize that I must cope with this schizophrenic situation. I can never truly be myself, as I don't know who that true self is. I've spent so much of my life deciphering others that I think that I lost myself in the process, maybe. Honestly I'm not even sure Its my problem. I'm starting to think that its yours.