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Exposing myself

January 11, 2009

I’ve just finished reading ‘Ten things I hate about me’ by Randa Abdel-Fattah. It’s about a Lebanese-Muslim girl who was born and raised in Australia, where foreigners aren’t particularly accepted in society. She dyes her hair blonde and wears blue contacts to try and hide her Arabic roots and lives two separate lives: her home one as Jamilah and the school one as Jamie. Her dad is really strict, so her freedom is restricted, thus causing frequent conflicts between what her religion expects her to do and what her school mates are doing. Through emailing her school mate (although she didn’t know at first that it was a friend from school) and the support of her friend Amy, she decides to freely show her Arabic roots.

It’s got me thinking about how separated my life is; there are three parts of me: V (the side friends see), Kate (my online “person”) and T (the side my family sees). The differences between parts is quite stark: how open I am about my mental health, my personality and my opinions. She manages to successfully mix her Arabic culture into her life, but I doubt the same could be done with mental health in my life! Mental health is stigmatised, and will hurt people around me. Because the internet is fairly anonymous, it is easier to be open than it is in real life, where it can hit you harder. I would love to be “me” to everyone: work colleagues, friends, family… anyone. Just taking the jump worries me. What will people say if one day I walk in self assured and full of beans? They won’t expect it. Should I just keep myself hidden and only show the parts of me appropriate to the situation? It’s a difficult one: if it’s not causing me any problems, then why do I need to change? But then, there’s also the question that I ask myself: why should I hide myself for society’s sake, when I should do things for myself?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2009 11:05 pm

    Separated is not the same as hidden. If you meet someone who only speaks German, you might choose to speak German in their company and hide English, but you would not pretend to be a separate person who is ignorant of English.

    I think it is often a kindness to other people to hide parts of yourself that they might find difficult, always a kindness to yourself not to separate your roles to the extent that you are having to pretend, and sometimes fun to challenge other people with the things they didn’t know about you.

  2. Lola Snow permalink
    January 12, 2009 6:24 am

    I suppose it depends if you think you could gain anything from trying things differently? Everyone has different sides to them, and the freedom is knowing that just because you aren’t showing it to someone, doesn’t mean you aren’t still the same person.

    Lola x

  3. January 12, 2009 3:26 pm

    I dont think its about seperating yourself, more making life easier. There is no hard and fast rule about how muc o yourself you must share withouthers but generally telling people about your mental habbits can make people uncomfortable. Well thats what I think anyway. Hannah X

  4. January 12, 2009 4:22 pm

    I don’t think I thought this post through enough when I wrote it, I was obviously headed somewhere else headwise!

    Mental health is a completely different kettle of fish to hiding your identity/religion.

    Bleugh, what a silly post.


  5. January 12, 2009 5:45 pm

    I don’t think it was a silly post. It certainly made me think, particularly about how people perceive me in different contexts. Although I guess everybody’s lives are separated or compartmentalised to a different extent, we all adapt to the people around us. I guess it all goes back to that immortal question ‘can you ever really completely know somebody?’ and ‘can you ever completely know yourself?’

    Got into an argument with someone of the second. I was trying to make the point that we are forever changing and shifting, influenced by life and others – ah well I’m rambling.

    Take care,

  6. January 12, 2009 6:46 pm

    I don’t think I know myself, well at this point anyway! I think it’s partly because so many things can influence how you act, that everything changes because of those factors.

    I also think that goes hand in hand with knowing other people: one day something they do can really surprise you, so you can’t either!

    Keep rambling if you want!


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