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Painted Brain | “do You Think This Personality Matches My Outfit?”
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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  • January 10, 2015

“Do you think this personality matches my outfit?”

A hallmark of BPD (borderline personality disorder) is not having a stable sense of self. We’re overwhelmed with this gaping void where our identity and personality should be. We try to pick one for ourselves, but there are so many personalities out there that seem to fit us at different times.

For me, identities are like clothing: I collect all of the ones I like, store them in my closet to wear for different occasions, and assemble a different outfit each day. Some days, I want to wear the “powerful leader who will change the world” identity. Other days, I’m the “sarcastic cynic who doesn’t like people.” On still other days, I’m the “obnoxiously extroverted class clown who makes everyone laugh.” Sometimes, I get overwhelmed because I just can’t decide who I want to be, so I take bits and pieces of personalities I like and smash them all together, even though they don’t make an iota of sense.

It’s like the platypus, it’s as though someone wanted the best of the animal kingdom, so they combined a duck, a beaver, and a venomous reptile, thus producing the most awkward creature in history.

I know that different people like different personalities, and I want to please everyone. I want as much approval and acceptance as possible, so I change my identity, mood, opinions, everything to match the people I’m with. Somehow I want to be universally-accepted, else I am worthless. Going along with the clothing metaphor, it’s like you’re the model wearing a brand-new personality that I could have, and if you’re wearing that personality, certainly you’ll accept me if I’m wearing it too, right?

You love every living thing ever? I’ll be the most compassionate person in recorded history. You vomit at the idea of romantic love? I’ll scoff at the silly notion of love if that’s what you want me to do. You want to complain about the inherently cruel nature of humankind? So do I! You want to praise the inherently kind nature of humankind? I’ll do that too!

I call this “mirroring,” but at the end of the day, my lack of a stable sense of self is distressing. What if I’m in a group of people, half of whom know me as the “cynic” and the other half more familiar with the “extroverted class clown”? Yeah, that doesn’t work.

I want to feel comfortable with who I truly am, and the fact that I’m digging around in my metaphorical closet while everyone else knows who they are makes me hate myself.

But… I know I’ll get there someday.

Tequila Mockingbird is an undercover correspondent for Painted Brain News and a member of UCLA’s Active Minds program.

Here’s her blog on tumblr:

  • Categories:

  • Mental Health

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