I am no expert in psychology, but pondering the old nature vs. nurture debate I have always felt like a product of my environment as far as my personality and behavior are concerned. To a certain extent I can understand how personality traits can be hereditary, but I am not at all convinced that my genetic makeup has much to do with my personality, thought process or belief system.
I spent the majority of my childhood with a carefree outlook on life. Accustomed to a traditional family life I was always slightly afraid of outsiders, which resulted in suspicion of strangers and some mild trust issues. My personality evolved over the years through experiences that taught me how to communicate with anyone, maintain a decent grasp on reality and approach most situations with a cautiously optimistic attitude. Knowing how to navigate through situations and build relationships is vital when it comes to professional success and healthy relationships, but just having those communication skills alone can not change a personality at its core.
Something was recently brought to my attention that I have always been aware of but never thought about much, which is the way I react to things. My reactions to thoughtful gestures and special events are usually subtle enough to make bystanders yawn. Initially I blame my personality, but the more I think about it the more I realize that trying to take in a special moment while under pressure to put on a front so that everyone else can be entertained is impossible, and attempting to do so ruins the moment on my end.
The repercussions of soaking in my own excitement without sharing it with the rest of the world are usually perceptions that for whatever reason I am not particularly jazzed, and this is a problem. Becoming aware of this puts on even more pressure and makes me feel guilty for being my genuine self under certain circumstances. If you aren’t an introvert this might be difficult to relate to or understand but for those of us who are, outward reactions do not always indicate how we feel on the inside.
I have drawn the conclusion that if people do not understand you or are constantly criticizing your personality, they either haven’t known you long enough, don’t know you well enough, or want you to change. But unless your personality is doing actual harm there is no reason to change it.
I myself have been guilty on occasion of putting those expectations on other people, and even though I keep it to myself the judgement is still there and is something I do not want any part of. I notice it the most when I watch pageant competitions. If the winner does not freak completely out, she obviously did not want to win and is not appreciating it the way that she should. I mumble under my breath about how she needs to get excited. This is not a good thing to do. She is experiencing the moment the way she is experiencing it, organically, and judging her reaction by what I think it should be is wrong. I feel the same way about marriage proposals. Various reactions, similar feelings.
While I am here, I might as well touch on some other ways people attempt to control other people’s emotions for the sake of their own comfort or entertainment.
When they tell you to smile more
Smiling is one of the most warm and pleasant ways of expressing positive emotion next to laughter, and why we feel the need to force it and expect others to do it on command is completely lost on me. I just find it to be weird, unnatural and a little creepy, and this is not just something that misogynistic men tell women to do because it makes them look pretty, women do it too.
Are you having fun?
Never in my life have I ever asked another person if they were having fun. My honest opinion of this question is that it’s weird. Initially the question shows concern from someone who cares about you and your well being, which would be nice if it didn’t make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, as though you are being watched and studied by everyone around you when all you really wanted to do was attend a concert for the sole purpose of hearing music or enjoy a cocktail and a meaningful conversation with a friend at the bar. I wish people would understand that it is possible to have a good time without getting rowdy and making a spectacle of yourself, and that all it takes to do so is some class, sophistication and a hint of maturity.
Why are you so quiet?
It has never been in my nature to make a lot of noise. I live my life under the philosophy that I should listen more than I talk. This is how I learn new things and gain in depth understanding of those around me. The most honest and accurate explanation I have been able to come up with is that I am either listening, observing or thinking. If I ever uncover a deeper meaning I will let you know but even then you won’t find me running my mouth. I do ask a lot of questions – and by that I mean I question literally everything from what I don’t understand to what I don’t agree with. I need to know why, otherwise I have trouble accepting it. Just because is never a good enough answer for me.
Every one of us has a god-given right to be who we are, but if we allow other opinions to phase us to a point of questioning why we are the way that we are and feeling as though we actually need to answer for it, we start to lose ourselves along with everything unique we have to offer the world. On the bright side, the more aware of this cycle we become the less advantage it will take of us, and that my dear friends is good news.