Who am I? If I had to describe myself, I would say that I am compassionate, responsible, determined and diligent. My particular others have had a significant impact on these attributes. I often find myself playing the role of my compassionate mother, determined brother, diligent father and responsible friends. I am also a very nervous individual — one of those people who worry about every little thing. It’s funny because most of the time, I worried for nothing. For the most part, everything works out fine. But tell that to my nerves!
However, on a more profound level, the question of who I am is something I often contemplate because there are times when I honestly do not know who the real me is. That is because I am an extremely shy person, which has had a significant impact on the way that I perceive myself. First of all, it is no secret that an introverted personality and self-consciousness go hand-in-hand. My level of self-consciousness is so high that I constantly focus on what others think of me. I always try not to stand out or disappoint anyone since that might draw negative attention to myself. For instance, I always ask my mom or my roommate before I go out if my hair looks OK, if my shoes match or if I look fat. The funny thing is that no matter what they tell me, I still fell like my hair is a mess and that I look like a fat, mismatched slob. I often ignore their comments and change my appearance, an action that definitely puts me in a strange loop.
I also put up this wall around myself — something that will hide the real me. I often avoid making eye contact and keep my verbal communication at a minimum. Yes, there are times when I just want to break through this wall and yell something out or even just quietly contribute my thoughts to a conversation, but I don’t. I would say that the ME component of my self dominates about 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent? That’s time spent with my family, when I am the closest to the “real” me. When I am around my family, it’s like I am a completely different person. I am more amiable, talkative and spontaneous, and my level of self-consciousness is much lower. Maybe that’s because I know that my family will accept me no matter what. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that since I am so afraid to know what others think of me, I shy away from being myself, which has blurred my true identity. Am I the girl with the reticent personality or the one who is more gregarious? Now that I think about it, I’m both. That’s who the real me is: shy around others and anything but that around my family.
But just like relationships are always changing, so is my personality, my perceptions, my identity. And these changes cause my two identities to mesh together. For example, once I feel comfortable around someone, I will start to open up little by little, kind of like a closed flower that blooms just when the time is right. I know that I have already blossomed, so to speak. It is much easier for me today to socialize than it was five or 10 years ago. I owe this to my past jobs and internships, and my I-It and I-You relationships I established there. For example, at one of my most recent internships as a reporter at a local newspaper, I had to interview many people, in person and over the phone. These interactions with people who I would most likely never see again not only enhanced my communication skills but also heightened my level of self-esteem. Although I was worried at first that my interviewees thought I was a bad reporter who had foolish questions, I soon learned to begin each interview with confidence. My self-perception also changed when my interviewees and editors made such comments as “Your questions were very in-depth” or “Good job on that story.” However, I would never let such comments build a pretentious aura around me. I would only use them as ways to build my confidence to a comfortable level and try to emerge from that strange loop.
I also owe my personal growth to my friends, who push me to try new things. For example, one of them persuaded me to go on an inverted roller coaster — something I was terrified to do. I have to say that when I went through that loop, I let my guard down and screamed so loud that I shocked my friend since she had never heard me yell so loud.
After seeing how much relationships and communication can influence my identity, I can only hope that my future relationships will help me to continue blossoming in my personal and professional life, and ultimately pave the way to new and exciting adventures — maybe a trip around the world, a move to France, or to my dream job: being a reporter for The New York Times.