ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: What It Feels Like to Be Trapped by the Pied Piper

By Anonymous // As Told to Avery Frasch

My personality is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. No matter what I say or what I do, this feeling of not being good enough constantly surrounds me.

I wake up every morning with the need to please people. If a day goes by and I haven’t made everyone around me happy, I failed. It has gotten to the point where I have stopped acting like myself in order to make everyone else happy. Over the years, I’ve learned that my personality may be too much for many people. The amount of times I’ve been called “obnoxious” is too high to count. I have taken these comments to heart, which caused me to completely change my personality when I’m around those I don’t think would accept the real me.

My true personality only comes out in front of those I trust, which is a small circle of people that just recently started to expand. Though I have started to open up, I still feel the need to hide my true self and let the more accepting side of me show. I want to make everyone happy. I want to feel accepted by everyone I am around. I care so much about what people think of me;it’s unhealthy. I feel trapped inside of an unrealistic version of myself when trying to please others. Yet, the only way of escaping is accepting my true self and not caring what others think, which I am unwilling to do.

The way people view me from the outside is completely different from how I feel on the inside. It’s not that I am not happy or that I wish my life was completely different, I just would rather live my life as myself and not as someone I believe everyone wants me to be.

My feelings are constantly tainted by others’ opinions of me. I don’t act the way I do because of my mood or how I’m feeling; I base my actions on those whom I’m around because I feel as if every move I make is being analyzed. I force myself to act like a completely different person not only because I feel the need to, but because I can’t handle people judging me as being anything but perfect.

I’ve heard it many times. I’ve seen it everywhere I go. I’ve even said it when giving advice to other people: be yourself. The two words that many people live their lives by are the two words that I struggle with the most. My true self not living up to other people’s expectations is one of my biggest fears. And it’s not that I don’t love who I am, it’s the fact that I want everyone else to love who I am as well, which is unrealistic to say the least. I portray myself as this girl who tries her best to impress everyone around her. The expectations that I have set for myself are higher than they should be, which is why I put walls up that block everyone from seeing who I truly am.

I am afraid of opening up. The thought of putting myself out there and having everyone see who I truly am is so scary to me, so I told myself never to do it. I don’t know where or when these feelings started to come up, but I understand why they did. When I was little, I was always the one friend who would be left out of play dates, or the last one chosen for a game of backyard baseball. I wouldn’t beat myself up about it at the time because I was so young and I truly didn’t understand my feelings. It took me a few years of being the last one chosen for me to truly realize that I wanted to be everyone’s best friend. I thought the only way to do that was to be so over the top that my presence was known everywhere I went. Year after year, I was the friend that talked too much, and the friend that was too loud and was constantly told to be quiet. It wasn’t because I wanted all of the attention to be on me, I just wanted to be noticed and to feel loved by everyone around me.

I live my life every day needing validation for everything I say and do. Though perfection does not exist, I still feel the need to be perfect in order to be valued by those around me. The confidence that I have for myself and my personality is low, in fact so low that the love I have for myself isn’t enough: it needs to come from other people. The person I force myself to be everyday isn’t who I truly am, it’s who I believe I need to be in order to be loved.

So maybe it isn’t my need to please people that causes me to feel trapped in this unrealistic version of myself. Maybe it’s my need to feel loved and appreciated.