I have already touched on the general subject of opening up a few times in the past, like in the post about my trust issues and here. But I have never really written about the expectations that come along with it.
Opening up has always been particularly hard for me. Ever since I was a child, I have always needed time in order to feel comfortable enough to share my thoughts and feelings. To my dismay however, some people can’t respect my boundaries and constantly nag me even though I am clearly not ready.
To me, talking about more private details of my life has always been surrounded by a dark cloud of pressure that could burst at any given moment. Transitioning from surface-level friendships to a real connection is a hard and slow process for me as opposed to people who are very open about their feelings and lives and tend to share very quickly. Oftentimes people misinterpret my unwillingness to open up over night as unkindness or disinterest and in some instances people will probe into my personal life for details, demanding I tell them my entire life story in one day, stating that they are totally trustworthy. I had this one experience where I opened up to basically a stranger and all I got in return was “wow, now I know why you don’t share much”. We stopped talking shortly after that. At least I have a tactic if I want to scare somebody off. Almost every person I meet gets impatient at some point, even if I have explained that I just need a little more time.
Privacy is the safety-wall around me, it is my own way of protecting myself. And like shedding any great armour, it takes time. So there I go, stripping away layer after layer until I feel naked, vulnerable. There is nothing to protect me anymore. The last thing I would want is for someone to bait me into knocking down the wall and then stabbing me. So you can understand my hesitation to show myself fully in the first place. But what I hate above all is when people try to tear down the layers, my protection, by themselves. And I should just be okay with it? Of course I am going to defend myself, and build a newer, more unpenetratable wall.
To translate this into a real life situation; When you meet new people there is a lot you can talk about. At some point however, more personal topics are bound to come up. If I get the feeling that I am being pressured to share I tend to shut down completely. My whole body just rejects the idea of being forced into telling something I am actually not ready to just yet. In those types of situations I get very quiet and defensive, often fleeing the scene all together. If someone steps over the line I drew or tries to adjust it, it’s very hard for me to trust them after that. The result is that I distance myself from them even further.
The pressure doesn’t always have to stem from other people though – it can also come from myself. Every now and then I catch myself feeling guilty for not having shared anything of value yet. ‘Can I really blame others for just wanting to get to know me better?’ is something I ask myself all the time. This results in me pushing myself even though I know that I am just not ready yet. Afterwards I nearly always regret telling the person what I did and even though it isn’t their fault I push them away because of how uncomfortable I feel. For once I wish that people would just let me unfold at my own speed. Sadly, this occurs rarely. What an endless cycle.
I admire people who can just share everything at once, I really do. I wish I could – it would make things a lot easier. Despite all of this though, I don’t think that being a private person is neccessarily a bad thing. There is a reason I choose to share my deepest thoughts only with the people closest to me. I can’t really blame myself for wanting to establish a foundation of trust before blurting everything out. I guess the one good thing I get out of this is that I can quickly spot real friends, people who are willing to stick around for a while because they want to get to know me. If you have that, then you have truly won in life – because good friends, the kind that you can rely on, are very hard to come by.