Thursday, March 29, 2007

let me do the talking.

I'm looking at 10+ days of being sick, and I'm ready for it to be over. Oh well.

We had an intriguing discussion/activity in my philosophy/first-year writing class yesterday (Wednesday). (for the record, taking a first-year writing class is requisite in the psych major, regardless of whether or not you tested out of the course using AP English credit from high school.) It was about walls and barriers in our lives, and how they speak for us much of the time. Essentially my teacher boiled down the walls in our lives to experiences from our past - finding out we're not the center of the universe when we first go to preschool, realizing we're not incredibly brilliant when we get our first low mark on a test, discovering we're not ultra-talented when we get cut from the team by a coach, etc. When we have experiences like that, we react to them, and begin to form a web of belief that defines how we see the world - those other kids in preschool just aren't cool enough to hang out with me, school sucks and my teacher is stupid and I don't need her to learn, and coach just doesn't see my latent talent and potential, etc. As we formulate those opinions and beliefs, often they get in the way of our communication with others - soon it's our walls speaking, and not us. Somehow who we are gets confused and lost in the cacophony of preconceived notions and skewed perspectives we wrap around ourselves.

It all rang very true for me. I think I escaped a lot of the wall-making, because I tend to take things in stride (of course, my view of myself is likely also skewed by my walls of perception and previous notions of my 'self'), but some walls are definitely there. Walls of belief, coping- and safety-mechanisms, psychological abnormalities, etc. filter what I take in and make me see everything the way I want to see it. At the same time, it defines a lot of what I allow people to perceive me as. Though I am a goody-two-shoes at heart (and possibly because of that), I want people to see me that way - part of my perception of myself that I like to project to others is that I'm in some way morally superior to them. I will go to great lengths to perpetuate this perception, and sometimes when I notice I'm doing it (unconsciously, usually) I get quite irate with myself, because honestly...who am I to determine the moral high ground? My walls of shyness, introversion, and insecurity masked by bravado tend to shine out before the real 'me' inside can get more than five words in - I think a lot of people perceive me as aloof, uncaring, or untouchable because of the way I present myself.

So how do we break down our own personal barriers to let the real 'us' shine? Unfortunately I think that journey's unique for everyone, but for me I'm starting with identifying what my barriers are, and then I'm going to figure out what I personally need to do to counteract them. If I can roll with the punches and adapt as well as I think I can, it should be an exciting exercise.

What does anyone else think about the concept, especially of one's walls doing the talking for them? It seems like those of us who deal with SSA tend to be especially adept at creating walls around ourselves to determine what we say and do, especially in social situations and interactions with other people. I guess another question in our case is whether or not we want to bring those barriers down, because honestly we are safer in Mormon society when we've got some of our barriers up. Is safe enough? I'm guessing the depends uniquely on each individual as well. It's a lot to think about.



Foxx said...

My question is this: is the (perceived) safety worth it?

When it comes to walls, barriers, masks, and the like, I have to ask myself if it's worth the effort to conceal my real feelings and thoughts from the world around me (and from myself). Usually, for me, the answer is no. It gets in the way of things that I desire: intimacy, emotion, and honesty, among others.

I think that we all grow up identifying with the masks that talk for us until you realize that you no longer care about what your mask was built to protect, or that it gets in the way of reality.

It is especially so for those in Camp Homo, who have felt they have to hide their real selves growing up, but I don't think that we get a special star for it. Everybody has things they want to protect. Everybody wants to feel safe from the world around them. I think people tend to hang on to that sense of security even when they understand how they are no longer in danger, even if they tear down that wall.

MoHoHawaii said...

I agree with foxx on this one. Good luck to you.

iwonder said...

This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I have realised that the fa├žade I have let everyone see my whole life is a great big pack of lies. I have pretended for so long, that I started to believe it myself. I have had to take a long hard look at myself, my life, my thoughts and actions, and I am really getting to know myself for the first time. I know it sounds weird, but not only did I hide from everyone around me, I also hid from myself.

I am reaching the point where I don't care about what others think anymore - I don't want to hide or be safe anymore. It is really frightening, but at the same time, quite liberating.

Yes, we are safer, but I agree that ,for some at least (me), it is no longer worth it.