Sunday, July 29, 2007

Musings - Sleepy Sunday Morning Edition

Lately, I`ve been doing a lot of thinking about personality and my true self. I`m one of those people who is always trying to please others. So, when I`m with other people, I`m always trying to fulfill their expectation of me and be the `right`Jenn. This morning as I was thinking about it, it reminded me about an episode of Star Trek: TNG called `The Perfect Mate`that guest starred Famke Janssen (this was prior to her roles in James Bond or X-Men). In the episode she played a character whose sole purpose was to become the perfect mate for someone else. Her personality would metamorph to match that of whomever she happened to be with. In my own way, I`m doing the same thing, but without the natural empathic abilities.

When I`m out with people or when I`m working, it`s a constant guessing game to try to answer the right way, say and do the right things to be the `Jenn`of the moment. Even when I`m writing this blog I go through and try to craft the writing in particular ways to meet the expectations of my audience. It`s a bit tricky since you are mostly silent--it`s like trying to have a conversation with someone you can`t see or hear. Perhaps that`s why I`ve felt a bit of difficulty establishing my voice here. There is no one in particular to please here, just a nebulous sense of an unknown audience.

On rare occasions I feel comfortable enough to be the real me. Not many people have seen it. It happens most often when I have time alone. You see, spending so much time at work where I`m constantly `worker Jenn`trying to please clients and co-workers, it`s hard to shut it off at the end of the day. So, often my home self is an extension of that person too. When I was teaching, it was different though. Being in the classroom with my students I didn`t feel the same pressure to `be right`for them. In fact, I felt incredibly free to let my crazy wacky personality through. After class with other teachers was a different story, but when it was just me and my students, it was really me and I liked that.

One of the dumbest things about all of this is that I really like who I am, when I get a chance to be that person. But, I always let my perfectionism and my desire to please others take over. I`m a bit scared of what would happen if people saw the real me. And, there are a lot of things preventing me from being that person. I`ve built up years of expectations from others about who I am. Not to mention the fact that customer service sometimes demands a certain level of artifice in order to be successful, or maybe just a different personality than my natural inclinations allow.

Standing in the bathroom at the end of a long week I feel a great sense of relief to wash off my makeup from the day. The warm water feels relaxing on the muscles of my face that have been locked up in fake smiles and forced conversations all week. It`s a similarly wonderful feeling when I finally mentally peel off all the other Jenn`s and let myself out for a change.

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