Just be yourself…mostly.

Apparently I have a personality that annoys some people.

Really. I know. Shocking.

Well Captain Obvious, I’ve known this for some time. I’m upfront, snide, snarky, and aggressive. And honest. All through school I was hated by my classmates for speaking up during class, debating with the professor or generally doing anything to prolong the class. Except the profs. They loved it. And the writing center I used to work in, I know at least half of the tutors there don’t like me. Some of it is jealousy but most of it is just my personality rubbing them the wrong way.

I don’t care. This is who I am. Sure, I should probably exhibit more self control when making jokes at inappropriate times, but don’t we all have areas we’d like to work on? And I know there are people who like me BECAUSE of my personality, not in spite of it.

Today though, I had my best friend call me out about it. She’s told me in the past this is an area that bugs her about me even though she saw the same me in the writing center as everyone else but gravitated toward me instead of hating me. But this time it wasn’t her I offended, a new friend of hers who was hanging out with a group of us on Friday night was offended and made to feel uncomfortable by something I said. I asked her what it was but she said her friend didn’t give any specifics. She also said there were a couple of things she didn’t invite me to because of this. So, I, who’s been her friend for 4 years through lots of crap should change so I don’t offend her new friend she’s known barely a month.


So what do all of you think? Do you hold back your personality and try to make everyone happy and comfortable even though eventually your true self will show through and will still probably scare some people away? Or do you say if they don’t want me the way I am, there’s the exit? And more specifically, those of you who count me as a friend, do you like me because of my personality or in spite of it?

52 thoughts on “Just be yourself…mostly.

  1. We all suffer from trying to mold ourselves into the people we think others want us to be. And while that can work, most of the time, smart people — and frankly, that’s who you want to spend your time with, even if the definition of “smart” can change, can be directed towards one area instead of several, blah blah blah — can see through the crap and pick up on who we actually are.That said, it is absolutely impossible to be the same person to everyone you know. Because so much of those interactions are relative, depending on shared history and the like.But in your friend’s case, I think her criticisms of you are more of a reflection of her own (deep) self-confidence issues and not necessarily about you per se.

  2. While Sarah’s right about the relativeness of experience (he said, making words up left and right), personally I don’t go out of my way to modify my personality for anyone much. It gets far too complicated trying to remember which version of you you’re using for each person. Especially as I’m so mind-meltingly absent-minded.And if someone likes me, I know it’s because of who I am, nothing more, so I’m that much more comfortable with people. I guess. And the ones that get scared away, well, that’s life.And yeah, I think your friend’s thing has got to be down to something other than you – more her friend’s apparent problem with you, and her problem with that, than anything else. In which case, if it gets a bit much, I’d confront her about it with more or less what you said there. She’s your friend, so she should be capable of listening.As to the last question, I like you for that thing you do where you get the banana paste and smear it all……… I’ve said too much.

  3. To a degree we have to be who we are. On the other hand, there is no point in antagonizing other people without good reason.I repeatedly resolve to just keep my mouth shut . . . and then I do it again.But a long time ago I decided to be who I am and let the chips fall where they may. I cannot mold myself into someone else’s image.

  4. I have no answer to your question other than… you were that guy? The guy who raises his hand with a question 3 minutes before the end of class.I’m just gonna shake my head.

  5. It’s not your personality. It’s your insistence on being a straight white male who likes show tunes. Dude, that just doesn’t work.And chick lit (he said, hiding the latest Candace Bushnell from his coworkers, lest they find out). What’s up with that?Dude, you need a beer gut. You need to belch and fart more. And for God’s sake, go to a strip joint and get yourself kicked out.Then, you will be the person you always wanted to be.

  6. Ultimately self-perception matters most. You can only change qualities you recognize as needing change.I agree with Sarah that it’s not possible to be the same person around everybody, but it’s important to me to be generally consistent in what I say and how I act–if only to preserve my own sense of continuity. Consistency of character goes hand in hand with personal development. We’re always deciding what we like and don’t like about ourselves. One sign of security in your own skin is accepting the many sides of yourself and *not* needing to show every side to everyone you meet.

  7. Have to agree in large part with Gerald.Consistency in character is important – “to thine own self be true.”I think, too, that if only one person is telling there’s an issue with a part of your personality, then you might want to explore a bit with others, kind of like you’re doing, so see if others perceive it to be a problem.Scary as it might be, I agree with John, too. “If someone likes me, I know it’s because of who I am, nothing more, so I’m that much more comfortable with people. I guess. And the ones that get scared away, well, that’s life.”

  8. Like John R. I can’t remember how I’m supposed to act around certain people. I’ve only got two modes — quiet and talkative. One for when I’m around people I don’t know, the other for when I’m around people I do know.As for you being snarky: you’re snarky? Maybe I misunderstand the word. Maybe I just don’t know you well enough. I just never would have used “snarky” to describe you.OTOH, I think part of getting older is realizing that there are just somethings that you can no longer make time for — for me it is finishing books that I don’t enjoy. For you it might be trying to please friends of friends. Imagine how hectic your life would have been if your friend had felt free to invite you to every social event she was headed to.

  9. There are two aspects to this discussion: how much we should worry about how others perceive us, and how we perceive ourselves. I think the latter is the most important regardless – and will in turn, affect the former. When you see yourself as a fantastic person with great qualities and, albeit a snarky personality that some can’t take, (but dammit is still fantastic) – then you don’t have to worry about “editing” yourself for others, or remembering which version of Bryon you are with them, Bryon 2.0 or Bryon 4.75. Of course, it’s completely unfair too, to discount other’s feelings. That’s part of being a human being. If part of my personality is to throw feces at people (like say, John) and then I say “who cares” when they run away screaming and stop returning your phone calls – you’ve gotta know that maybe, it’s ok to tone down the feces-throwing. (i’m just using a random example here, of course).

  10. Well, that struck a chord. As you well know, I have offended just about everyone on MWF — perhaps your kind self excluded. I have also managed to offend the entire DorothyL list permanently with one single gaffe. At my age, I’m very much afraid I’ll go on offending people. Now I think of you as very kind (s.a.) and I like kind people. I also think of John as kind. But let’s face it, you guys say some pretty ourageous things sometimes and that’s bound to shock innocent virgins into taking abrupt flight from your male fantasies. Mind you, I think they are amusing myself, and I rather doubt that you want to clutter up your life with the sort of person who sends her “moral indignation” via a messenger.Relax! You’re one of the good guys.

  11. Every relationship, whatever kind of relationship, has ebb and flow, life/death/life cycles, etc ad nauseum.People have times they back away then get close again. Hopefully, people evolve with each other over the years. When bad things happen, I try to be up front and honest and I can back off when I need to.But……four years and she now feels the need to say something? Four years? And she doesn’t bring it up until the new friend says something but the new friend doesn’t pin it down to anything in particular. Hmmmmm…I tone down around new people and certainly in business situations. I’m not a snark fest 24/7. I know which people, which friends, I can be utterly myself with and generally unload pent up snark that’s lain in wait for just that opportunity. This could be an eyebrow raiser, but I have more quiet time friends as well. If you’re lucky, you can find people that can work with constantly changing, almost roller coaster-like mood changes that tend to terrify strangers and make babies cry.To have a friend say something after that long would hurt me and anger me. Ultimately, if they’re a friend, they’ll understand that. And I’d want a ‘discussion’. An open forum in which both sides air everything. If the friend wasn’t up for it – tears and bad poetry. But I’d know where I stood.If they were up for it, the friendship gets stronger and you both understand each other better.From experience, if you try to change to accomadate another person even though you don’t believe in that change, the change won’t stick.Changing, evolving, growing, is up to one person and for one person – you. It’s based an good and bad experiences like the bundle you’ve been dealing with lately.And Graham is right, Winter is the asshole in this group.

  12. Awwwww, Guyot, you know just what to say to make me smile. And Jen, that means I got to see the real you at BCon when the flat pint got you talking about weasels and Angela Lansbury?

  13. I don’t think I’ve posted here before, but I’ve been reading your blog here and there for a while now, so I hope you don’t mind me piping up.I guess I’ve struggled with the same issue for a long time. Struggled probably isn’t the right word. I just never tried to ‘fit in’. I always had a surreal sense of humour and I was never afraid to have and express my own thoughts.I remember when I was younger I used to use my humour as a ‘test’ for possible friends. If they could get me, then they were the friends for me.There was one particular occasion where I was friends with ‘the cool people’, and they had a talk with me about one of my friends who wasn’t ‘cool’. They forced me to make a choice.Which ended up being easy, because I DIDN’T choose them. :)P.S: I wish I could EDIT these comments. I hate spelling mistakes. πŸ™‚

  14. Bryon – yes, that was the real me. I didn’t have to stand there squirming as I withheld my Tourrettic spewing of crassness, brashness and bombastic snottiness.Mr. Hawaii – As Bryon and I consistently spell things in a ‘Look Ma, no spellcheck’ manner’, never feel you have to repost for mere spelling errors.It’s funny that people think it’s scary to agree with John.Guyot provides the tough love every growing boy needs. Let’s all fuck off together! It’ll be fun!

  15. “It’s funny that people think it’s scary to agree with John.”They’re only saying that because they were really agreeing with me about the banana paste thing and have yet to confront their secret yearning on this issue.I like to think of myself as the charming and helpful guide leading them, lantern in hand, through the dark forests of fruit/writer-showtunes fetishism to their true calling.They like to think of me as the freaky torch-wielding psychopath who keeps trying to drag them into the trees shouting things about food sex and singing.I think we’re all happier as a result.Guyot provides the tough love every growing boy needs. Let’s all fuck off together! It’ll be fun!Mmm… tough love…I’ll pack my Speedos!

  16. Bryon, I agree with the people who say just be yourself. I’m quiet in business situations, or around people I don’t know, or in large groups, since other people are far more interesting and witty than I am. But with friends I’ silly and noisy and say whatever comes into my head. I think that with a friend of 4 years you should be able to be who you are, warts and all (not saying that you have any warts, of course!), and that applies to both of you. If you have to tiptoe around someone who’s supposed to be a good friend, then I don’t actually think they’re that much of a good friend.Donna

  17. “Let’s all fuck off together! It’ll be fun!”Wasn’t that a movie back in the sixties?Let’s Fuck Off In London TonightYeah. That’s it. Great flick.

  18. If we go according to everyone else, then we become them, we are no more what we originally are.Its the fight to stay yourself with the whole world thats trying to make you like everyone else, counts…Wear your attitude.

  19. “Wear your attitude.”Ah. Then I would wear a ballet pink bullet bra ornamented with dingle balls under a Wal Mart vest and ‘Save the Humans’ t-shirt, Santa Claus boxers a size too big under purple leather chaps and a pair of mismatched Chuck Taylor hi-tops from the way back of the closet. And I mean waaaaaaay back.

  20. I don’t know exactly what my attitude would look like should I choose to wear it, but I’m sure it’s wrinkled and probably made by J. Crew. What shoes would I wear with an attitude? Tennis Shoes? Something with a square toe?

  21. I think my attitude is best embodied by the dress I wore to the Edgars 3 years ago, but in red.Of course, the damn thing doesn’t fit anymore…

  22. Bryon,You should be yourself.When you are at home alone, never around other people.Around other people you should strive to be just like Jim Winter, or maybe that guy on the bus towards the back who sings to himself.Geez…. Do you need a blog to tell you this!!! Be yourself always. Because at some point you will slip up and the real you comes out anyway. If they don’t like you, they can go to hell.And you still owe me a donut. I’ll be at the Sheraton in Chicago for a few days in Sept. so you know where to find me….

  23. Be me for a while.I’m sick of being me. The hours suck and the bennies are lousy. But you get to wear nice watches.

  24. I think we should all endeavor to keep this post going forever.And, having said that, I believe I should have effectively killed it.That bullet bra is damned uncomfortable.Can I be Ingrid for a while?

  25. Sorry I’m coming late to this discussion — I don’t believe that your friend doesn’t know the specifics of what you said that was so offensive. I mean, what woman would hear that a friend was offended by you and not get every detail? What she’s done is criticized you without giving you enough information to change for the better.Which sucks. Don’t give it another thought.

  26. Consider your “friend” of four years. She tells you that you pissed off her friend, but won’t tell you what you said. You’re left to ponder with no way to fix the situation.True friends are people you can be yourself around without worrying, because even if you do offend, they will tell you directly, and give you the chance to make it right.Or they’ll insult you (or Lunchbox Hero) back accordingly.You have enough friends here, Bryon, judging by all these replies.

  27. He may have friends here, but that doesnt’ leave him much to do on saturday night other than read and post to blogs. Bryon is a young man, he’s single. He needs to go out and have fun, drink, get the bean snapped. Sing showtunes and play hide the sausage.

  28. Jon ‘Sexual Healing’ Jordan has a collection of euphimism for sex that are a testiment to man’s abilty to obfuscate a subject.One of the more icky one’s to me is his use of the term:”Boink!”Suggestive of a quick and comical experience one wouldn’t seek out, surely.”Snap the bean” would keep my pants on.If food and sex are to be mentioned together I think we can do better.

  29. << One of the more icky one's to me is his use of the term:”Boink!” >>I used to prefer “boff” to “boink” but now I like “bounce.”

  30. Sorry, folks. I think “pop the bean” is certainly a more intriguing term than those others. Maybe Jon had better not explain. A bit of mystery is a turn-on.And Jennifer, why would anyone want to be me? I don’t even want to be me. Though after that offer, I may reconsider my attitude. πŸ™‚

  31. Man, don’t you people realize that we’re never going to get a new post to make fun of if you keep commenting on this one? FIFTY COMMENTS? Sheesh.Okay, I’m just jealous that I don’t get 50 comments.

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