Public me VS private me

Summer funPeople often accuse introverts of being fake. However, I think the more accurate explanation is that we have a public self and a private self. What others get to see depends on the situation and the level of trust we have with them. It isn’t that we’re being fake, we just don’t reveal 100% of our personality at all times. Introverts need to have a meaningful connection with others before we feel its worth sharing more of ourselves. One of my favourite quotes on the topic is this:

The funny thing about introverts is once they feel comfortable with you, they can be the funniest, most enjoyable people to be around. it’s like a secret they feel comfortable sharing with you. Except the secret is their personality.

Public me can be broken down into different categories depending on the situation.

At work
I’m reserved and quiet. I’ll observe carefully before making a comment and I pay close attention to the actions and reactions of others. While I’ll engage in limited small talk, I prefer to power through my tasks with as few distractions as possible.

Casual social events
If I know a lot of people, I’ll circulate within the group, trying to connect with everyone. If I feel comfortable, I can be quite loud and outgoing. I’m witty with a slightly sarcastic sense of humour that most people don’t expect. I’m warm and open but I don’t share the details of my private life.

If I only know a couple of people, I speak less. I’ll initiate conversation with some of the quieter ones. If that’s not an option, I’ll stand quietly with the group. I often can’t keep up with the banter and I usually don’t get the inside jokes. My energy drains quite quickly so bathroom breaks occur on a regular basis.

Shopping & errands
I’m on a mission. I take as little time as possible to dart into the store, quickly gather the items on my list, then escape with my purchases. I rarely window shop, except when forced. I make an effort to be kind to the cashiers as I know from experience the treatment they often receive.

Private me is only seen by those I trust implicitly. This is limited to my immediate family and my close friends. I can be completely unguarded and relaxed around them. I don’t have to put on a front or pretend to be a certain way. There’s no pressure to fit in, no fear of gossip. I can be quiet and sit on the couch for hours with a book, or I can talk people’s ears off over dinner. I’ll sing, tease people, and make jokes. These are the people I can cry in front of, who I share my struggles and my problems with. I feel completely at home with them. There’s no judgement, only acceptance.

On the outside, it may look like I’m pretending to be two different people, but that’s not the case. Whether you see my public or private self, it’s still me.

What are your thoughts?

Image credit: “Summer Fun” by Davina is licensed under CC by 2.0


17 thoughts on “Public me VS private me

  1. VTNessa says:

    Yes to all of this. INFJ’s already have some conflicting inner workings, so it makes sense in light of that that we would have different levels of trust and behavior around various people. I have a few closer friends that I share quite a bit with and don’t feel I have to hold back much, and then I have more like friendly acquaintances that get to know some of me but not a lot. I don’t feel like I can cut loose around them, but I will share some thoughts and such. The rest is pretty much exactly as you describe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ally says:

      I totally agree with you. INFJ’s are typically good at sensing people’s intentions too. If someone isn’t interested, I can usually tell, and I won’t waste my time. But if they sincerely want to know something, I don’t mind sharing my thoughts (within reason).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eva says:

    Thanks for this wonderful blog post. I assume that extroverted people don’t actually get these different levels of trust, that those ARE actually personality traits and not some bullshit people make up when they are not in the mood for a conversation (this is what it probably looks like to an extroverted person).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Salvageable says:

    I’m like you at work and when shopping. At social events I’m more of a wallflower than you are. When I’ve been around some individuals long enough to feel comfortable speaking my mind, they often are surprised. (“J–did you just tell a joke?”) I guess I’ve never struggled t determine which is the real me–they are both real enough at the time. J.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. live_a_life_less_ordinary says:

    I agree with some of this for myself, especially the part about work and casual social events. But sometimes I also have a tendency to bare my soul to someone I just met, to much more of an extent than you describe at least, and sometimes to an extent that it turns people off. I’m not sure why, but it probably has something to do with me not having ever had that kind of relationship with my family, and sometimes I just feel desperate for someone to listen.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ally says:

      I can understand that too. It’s difficult to find people we can speak deeply and honestly with. As introverts, we’re usually the ones listening. But we have a deep need to be heard ourselves that often goes unfulfilled.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. VTNessa says:

    I can see that. Sometimes it feels safer to bare away to someone you’ve never met, especially strangers who you may never see again, because they don’t have any preconceived notions about you, and I think we often hope to find that deep connection with someone so why not just jump in from the start in case you’ve found that someone with whom you can be fully open and honest? Sorry, I know this isn’t my blog, I just wanted to comment…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      That’s a really great point too. It’d be wonderful if someone could find a meaningful connection that way. You don’t have to apologize for commenting, I love discussion 🙂


  6. sophiaaffini3 says:

    Wow. This is 99% me, too! The only difference is that I love window shopping. It’s very therapeutic to me, and I get inspired with new ideas :). Everything else you wrote though is spot on. It depends on my circumstances as to what level of ‘me’ I’m comfortable being. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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