Hey folks, today I’m going to get a little personal.
That’s right, I’m going to have a little chat about the personality disorders of your favorite author/actor/father/blogger, Adam Friggin’ Oster.
You see, many people see me in a different ways. To some, I’m an outgoing, outspoken, balls to the wall kind of guy. To others, I’m quiet, hides in corners, and mostly a bookworm. To others yet, I’m somewhere in the middle.
To myself, however, I’m not quite certain where I fit.
In other words, I’ve recently (within the last few years) become aware that my previous thoughts regarding my own personality may have been completely incorrect. I’ve recently become aware that I may have skewed the results of many a Myers-Briggs test simply because I was so good at pretending otherwise that I didn’t even realize I was pretending.
The issue takes us back, way back, to my final days of middle school. Those weeks of 8th grade where I was preparing to become a high school student. You see, back then, I was the outcast. In my school of 30 students (from K-8th grade), I was THE school nerd. I was that one kid everyone recognized as being the one who should have a kick me sign on his back, even more than one of the teachers. I had the Coke-bottle glasses and highwater jeans to match the premise. Even I would want to make fun of that kid.
But those last final weeks of 8th grade were a big deal to me, because I knew what was to come. I knew that high school meant a completely fresh start. Not only was I going to be going to a new school, but I was going to be in an entirely different part of the country, moving from South Carolina to Wisconsin. I had the chance to reinvent myself like so many of my nerdy predecessors had intended to do when going on to high school, but I was able to do it with almost no reminders of my nerdy past to hang around.
To make a long story short, when I arrived at my new school, I watched and emulated the cool kids, taking on many of their mannerisms and such in order to appear to be cool myself. I didn’t know it then, but I basically looked how to appear confident, how to look as though every single act I was involved in didn’t take a whole host of fearful decisions to ensure that I could reach the appropriate choice.
These mannerisms I took on quickly became more than just mannerisms, but an entirely different persona. I, as a child, was a hardcore introvert. In order to be part of the cool crowd, I had to be an extrovert.
And I believe, at least for the most part, I succeeded. In fact, I was so good at playing the role of extrovert, that I actually believed I was one.
It wasn’t until a few years back, around 2 or so, when I started to realize that this was all a lie.
You see, I’ve done a fair amount of acting in my life. The stage always seemed to be a comfortable place for me. In retrospect, it is possible that this is due to the fact that it allowed me to be someone other than myself, the scared of being in social situations self that I despised as a child. After taking about 5 years off from doing any form of acting, I saw that the regional theater group in which I did most of my performing with was doing one of my favorite shows. Although it wasn’t exactly the best timing, I thought I’d take it on, as I realized I did miss the stage.
That was when I realized that something was wrong.
This place that I had considered home for a number of years, suddenly didn’t feel right. When I had been involved there in the past, I had absolutely no problem in putting myself out there. I would introduce myself to new people who showed up, make sure they felt comfortable, and overall tried to be the friendliest dude I could be…all things I had learned from my attempts to become the cool kid in high school.
But now, I found that I couldn’t do that. Heck, there were several people in the cast of this show that I new quite well, and even with them I couldn’t find ways with which to open up to. People I had considered good friends at one point, were suddenly frightening to talk to…and I had no clue why.
Luckily alcohol came about during the cast party and I was able to get closer with the cast and crew and make some new friends (as well as re-acclimate to some old ones).
I figured it was a fluke. I recognized there as being an issue, but figured it probably had something to do with just trying to join in again at a place that I hadn’t been around for ages. Then another show opportunity came around. This one had more people I knew in it, people whom it hadn’t been so long since I had talked to, but again, I still didn’t have that comfort that I had long felt with people over the years I had spent in theatre prior to this.
To make a long story short, I’ve done a few shows now over the past couple years and all of them have been the same…no matter how familiar I might be with the cast, I just couldn’t open up.
It wasn’t until I remembered that 8th grade version of myself that I was able to fully understand where this hangup stemmed from. Suddenly, I remembered there was a time in which I wasn’t an extrovert, in which I was the quiet, introvertive kid who would keep his nose stuck in a book and wax philosophically, as opposed to the social butterfly I had been for my formative years.
That’s when I became aware of a rather big item about myself that I hadn’t been aware of previously. I had spent over 10, maybe more like 15…not quite 20, years of my life hiding behind a character I had created. I had put on this character of an extrovert confident and cool kid so fully that even when I would fill out those great Myers-Briggs tests for whatever high school psychology classes I might have had, I would invariably have an E at the start, although this version of me prior to high school would have definitely had an I as the first letter.
More and more details about my own life became clearer, and suddenly I understood why my life worked the way it did. I had created a caricature of myself in order to blend in. A caricature that I had given up on using once I began working from home and devoting myself to my family. I don’t deal with new social situations often anymore. I don’t need that character. Well, until I do, of course.
Without even being aware of it, I came out of the closet (so-to-speak) in that I allowed this version of myself that I had thought was unwanted to come out and be loved by the people closest to me. No longer did I need to pretend that I was everything to everyone. I just needed to be me…and luckily my wife loves that version of me.
Of course…there are more than a few times in which I could really use that caricature to come back…such as during the show I performed in this past weekend…where I found myself again unable to interact and probably appeared disinterested, as opposed to just incapable.
I’m going to have to work on that.
But for now, I’ve got an interesting character discovery that’s happened which I’m working on finding a story to fit him in…Should be fun
Have fun out there!