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People Want You to Be Who They Think You Are

I have this weird habit. When I overhear someone say something interesting, I it to myself. So that I’ll remember. The results of which is a bizarre, completely nonsensical conversation with myself, full of random snippets of other people’s conversations.

Some of it is funny. And some it is seems like it could maybe be meaningful. But most of it seems like I misheard or mistyped it because it makes no sense at all.

Sometime last month I texted, People want you to be who they think you are. I don’t remember where I heard it, or the context in which it was said. But I keep on going back to it, because it seems to hold some kind of meaning.

Identity is a tricky thing. Especially in this bizarro online world, but even in real life. We are all many people. Friends, children, lovers, workers… and different people see us through different lenses.

People want you to be who they think you are. I think of the straightjacket we all wear when we try to live up to (or down to) the expectations of the people in our lives. We waste so much energy trying to be who they want us to be and act the way they want us to act.

I’ll admit that I have never been good at shaking free of this stuff. Of telling people to fuck off. Instead, I’ve spent much of my life trying to please others. My family, people at work, men…  Maybe even you, my readers. It’s just something that I do, as second nature. Try to be the person that people think I am (or want me to be).

I think maybe it’s time I learn to try not to. To just be.


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27 to “People Want You to Be Who They Think You Are”

  1. Roxanne says:

    You said it, sister. But it is a very hard thing to do. It really is.
    Roxanne recently posted..Exhumation by Accident — Be Careful What You Dig ForMy Profile

  2. And they will claw violently at you to prevent you from pursuing dreams that veer ever so slightly off course. It scares them. They think you will leave them behind and sometimes they are right. I think most of us struggle with where our commitment to others stops and where our selfish pursuits begin. It seems the older one gets, the blurrier the lines become and the easier it is to settle into resignation. “I’ve come this far; what’s a few more years matter?”

    Sure hope I’m wrong….
    Rufus Shepherd recently posted..He blogs like an unemployed person with moneyMy Profile

  3. Sandy says:

    i do that, too! especially if the overhead thing sparks an idea i want to blog about. and this phrase is definitely something i would have jotted into my phone.
    Sandy recently posted..A Roundabout Way Of Saying That I Am Going to Post Less- More OftenMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who takes notes on my eavesdropping. You never know when you’re going to hear something brilliant.

  4. NikkiB says:

    At first I thought…I’ve been pretty good at being who I am, regardless of some of the shit it’s gotten me into (what, people don’t like honesty? or confrontation in public? whatever?) but then…

    I am definitely someone who takes care of her peeps. Sure, that sounds all well and good, yay for me, and most of the time that’s great. But. Right now? I’m sorry, I am not emotionally able to help you deal with your shit. Sorry.

    And it’s not going over all that well with everyone. Some people get it… some people still want me to be who I’ve been.
    NikkiB recently posted..Shock valueMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      Your struggle is one I’m quite familiar with. People can be disappointing. Even some people who we thought were good friends.
      Just take care of you and the people you love<3

  5. SoloAt30 says:

    To think how much I might have cheated myself out of being the authentic me by trying to be who others perceive me to be…or even trying to prove that I’m *not* who they perceive me to be. How freeing it is to just let go and just be…
    SoloAt30 recently posted..Does No Mean Bring Me Chicken SoupMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      There are degrees. I think most people assume I am a rather free person. Outspoken, etc. But then, then don’t realize how much I hold back.
      It’s the little things. Damn they add up.

  6. Marrie says:

    I was just talking to a good friend about this very topic this weekend! The context of our conversation is how this image we facilitate binds us; even in our intimate relationships. The doting husband, the conservative wife, etc. Somewhere along the way we stop being the people we really are in order to keep up the illusion we think others want us to be. This illusion becomes duct tape that prevents us from evolving individually and in our relationships. Why? For fear of hurting someone? Kinda sad actually. I’m with you though, I’m a GDPP (god damn people pleaser). But acknowledgment is the first step, right?
    Marrie recently posted..Cheating and Relationship Expectations- An invitation of the partyMy Profile

  7. Abby says:

    Once you learn to be just you, you will be so much happier. The “fuck you” attituse is one of the best and most confident ones you can attain.

  8. Catherine says:

    I think you are so right about people wanting you to be who they think you are. But sometimes, I don’t think it’s ill intentioned. I think we are all just creatures of habit, and we put people in boxes, and assign stereotypes to them, because it helps us understand them and come to terms with who they are. We also don’t like change, so when we find out they aren’t exactly what we thought they were, we have a hard time coming to terms with that.
    Catherine recently posted..Simply Solo Spotlight- 5 Ways To Win A Woman Over On A First DateMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      I didn’t say anything about anyone’s intentions. I agree, we’re all creatures of habit. And, sadly, most people don’t deal well when the folks in their lives change and evolve.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I just found your blog and I completely relate to this post! I have the hardest time trying to be something different than what’s expected of me. I just returned home from four months in France. It was life changing and I learned a lot about myself, but since I’ve returned home, I have gone back to some old habits. I am staying with my family right now and they expect me to act a certain way, be the person I was while I was growing up. I’m having the hardest time being the “new” me!

    • Simone Grant says:

      Hopefully there’s some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. And hang in there. There was a short time when I was staying with my family, right after returning from some time living abroad (while I was looking for a new, affordable place in the city) and it was one of the hardest times in my adult life.

  10. Ms. Wake Up says:

    It’s amazing how people have a tendency to project their ideal selves upon others and expect that individual to play the part. In some instances this logic is faulty because imagine the person perceiving you is not all up 100% in their mindset. An immature mindset can only manifest a jaded view of the other individual. Some people can bring the best out of us and some are just better left alone. :)

  11. reena says:

    I am a regular reader of your posts and I love all of them. Living in a remote village in the southern tip of India, I have always been trying to live upto the expectations of others – of my parents, siblings, husband … and of society in large. It makes me feel non-existent. Yes, its time to stop watching myself thru others’ lenses. Thanks for your post.

    • Simone Grant says:

      WOW. Thanks so much for chiming in. I see in my data that I have readers from all over the world, but it’s rare that I hear from people so far away (in geography and lifestyle). Funny how there are commonalities in ALL of our lives.

  12. Will says:

    Great point.

    The deeper issue here stems from approval and lack of self-love. We want others to like us and we want their approval – something many of us learn from the way we interact with our parents and families.

    But the truth is, you can never FULLY satisfy the desire for love/approval from others. The only way to get love and approval 24/7, 365 is from Yourself.

    And once you learn to do that, what others think of you won’t matter.

    There’s a book out there on this very subject I think, called something like, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

    Good read.
    Will recently posted..Relationship Self Help AdviceMy Profile

    • Simone Grant says:

      Will, I’m sure you’re right to a certain extent. But when I bend over backwards, constantly playing make-believe, to make my dad happy, I doing it because I want to see him happy. He’s not going to love me any more or less. His happiness and the happiness of many people in my life is genuinely important to me.
      That’s the way it is with a lot of people-pleasers.

      Don’t assume you know our motives.

  13. Liz says:

    I can relate to this so much, esp from the other perspective. I tend to meet someone, learn a little bit about them, then fill in the blanks to create a person that is only, at that point, in my head. Then I battle with disappointment of them not being who I thought they were. I guess in a way I’m creating this situation and therefore disappointing myself. And I’m not 100% sure, eff it I’m not 50% sure, how to change this way of thinking. Give things more time? Stop reading people and wait for concrete evidence? Sigh. Who knows! Just gotta keep on trucking forward.

  14. Judah says:

    I try to date women that I feel are better than me…Not in a self hating way but more so I want to be with a woman who will bring out the best parts of me. I.E. Make me a better man. If I don’t think a woman can help me grow I really don’t see the point in putting in the mental energy of dating them.
    Judah recently posted..Mood Music Moment- Take Off Your CoolMy Profile

  15. Emily says:

    Ha, I do this too. You do hear some interesting stuff out there, my own little version of “Overheard in NYC.”
    Emily recently posted..Household Multi-taskers: Use Vaseline to Clean Leather, and MoreMy Profile

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