My personality at school is not the same as at home. Why do I act like this?
Rest assured, it’s perfectly normal, says our elder — it’s an excellent coping strategy, in fact.
From the title, you might think I have multiple personality disorder, but I do not. I just feel like at school I am someone different than I am at home. At school, you could call me weird, unique or someone who does not care what you think. At home, I am quieter, and, well, normal. At home, it’s just that I feel like I have to be less myself than at school. I know this sounds stupid and weird but I don’t feel accepted at home. At school, my friends are umm… unique with me, weird even. At home, I just feel quieted, ignored and sad. I am not depressed; I am just sadder. At home, I get yelled at all the time and I get punched by my brother. I would not call them abusing, just not so nice. At school, I feel like who fricken cares, they don’t matter, they are just random people I am forced to be associated with. I can do whatever I want whenever I want. I just feel that at home I can’t be me. I can’t believe what I want, I can’t do this or that or really anything. I am just wondering if I am two different people for others or for me?
Rest assured, you are very normal, and not suffering any mental or emotional disturbance, as far as I can see. I have answered over a thousand questions about the use of coping strategies such as yours. When we adjust our behavior according to our desire to create safety for ourselves where we believe some negativity exists, it is called an excellent defensive move.
In school, you experienced acceptance, safety, and a sense that you fit in with your peers. If that were true at home, you wouldn’t have been forced to wear a mask of protection or build a wall of passivity and in-authenticity. In a way, it is your successful method of establishing an effective personal boundary. See http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/personalboundaries.html
We all have the ability to adjust our presentation in the world according to our experience of what is needed to fit in. We behave one way with authority figures, a different way with our peers, another with the opposite sex, another with family members, and another with strangers, etc. They are all facets of one’s personality with excellent coping skills. While I am not a therapist, I believe there is an opportunity for you to further develop your power to speak up for yourself when you feel disrespected. As long as you can be tactful in your presentation, practice standing up for what you think is right.
Letter #: 452368