Opening Up IRL – Why Is it So Hard?

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Yesterday I had my first honest conversation with a friend of nearly 30 years about how I feel, even then I only skimmed the surface. See, I learnt early on in life to keep my real thoughts and personality to myself.

Why? I was one of those kids who never fitted in. Not with my family; they’re nice, but they don’t get me. Not at school either, so I was bullied constantly.

Once school was done I packed up and never looked back. In a new city I cultivated an image of perfection; the right hair, clothes and clubs, I never said a bad word and kept my opinions to myself. This worked and I found friends and a great job. Clearly being perfect was the only way people could like me. Being anything but perfect caused problems and scared off guys, so the wall never came down.

Problem is, perfect me attracted and married Crazy Cat Boy. Over the past 20 years I’ve slowly “changed” so that I can be more me.  The reality was that I was just too different to the person he thought he was getting involved with.

One real life friend, Kooky Canberra Girl, knows more about me than most. I can tell her pretty much anything and she won’t freak out, but that’s about it.

It wasn’t until I became involved in forums around ten years ago that I found a place where I could be real. Suddenly I was free to be me and people didn’t seem to run away. A whole world of sharing opened up. Being able to express myself openly (and anonymously) online has helped me be more at peace with myself and come to terms with who I actually am and what I want from life. I’d been living the facade for so long I’d lost who I was.

As a people person the irony of a bunch of people on the internet knowing more about me than the guy who shares my bed or my best friends is not lost on me. As a marketer I’m intrigued by my own behaviour.

I am (on the surface) a pretty confident person, and I’ll back myself to come out on top in most situations. So why is it so hard to open up IRL? Fear, insecurity? I’m not sure. It’s not that I think my friends will run away or CCB will bail. I’m just worried that I’ll have to be open all the time and I’m not comfortable with that, it scares me, I’d have to think about things I don’t want to face. So for now I’ll just be me on the Internet, as long as you don’t tell anyone, it’s our secret right?

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