Do you remember when we would complain that our friends were two-faced? That they had different versions of themselves, that would come to life depending on who they were around? At the time it seemed like a terrible thing, and we tried to justify our actions to declare our one-faced selves. How terribly off we must’ve been.

Because we are not one person – not one face with one personality that boasts consistency across the board. We are different versions of ourselves, combined with the ability to shape-shift between those personalities dependent on who we surround ourselves with. And perhaps you disagree, but I wonder if you could tell your mother the same thing you told your best-friend that one night at 2am. And if you think that has little to do with it, just remember that the things we tell other people about ourselves – our thoughts, our emotions, our actions – they shape us.

Different people bring out different sides of ourselves, but more than that, we carefully select which aspects of ourselves we are willing to disclose to different people. Sometimes, this comes naturally, and other times it is met with frustration and exhaustion to be oh so careful with what we show about who we are.

I suppose we have friends for different purposes, and we can be even more grateful for the one’s that have taken on a multi-purpose role. The one’s who know every version of who you are and don’t hesitate to understand as you transition between your 2pm and 2am self – you’re PG and R rated selves. Sometimes, it is hard to find people that allow you to feel as though you can freely move between the different versions of who you are.

And this does not mean that we are pretending, as it meant when we declared the two-faced name upon other people in high-school. We are one person made up of a million and one different aspects of our personalities and it makes sense that some people draw out certain things more than others. It makes sense that we tell our secrets – the secrets that shape us as people – to not simply everybody.

Sometimes, I gloss over myself for presentation purposes. I choose what to say when people ask about who I am, because not everybody needs to know the fine details, right? It’s not rocket science; only some of your friends know your drunken mistakes, your list of hook-ups, what kind of drugs you’ve taken part in – majority of the times you leave out most of these when your parents ask. That’s the way it works.

Because some stories are for certain ears only, some are for yourself, only. And it’s pretty simple for the most part. Until you wish you could tell somebody something, and know that their ears aren’t prepared to hear it – so you leave it out, and you let it linger in the back of your mind like a weight on your shoulders that you carry so that nobody else has to. Sometimes then, it gets hard.

But I don’t think we’re two-faced – if anything, we have upwards of twenty. My first boyfriend and I wrote letters to each other. This was me, I thought. Love-letter-writing-romance-craving Ashley. My second boyfriend never got a letter, and it wasn’t because I was holding back. But he was different, he brought out a different version of myself and it was one that didn’t include letters but included far more than what could be said on a sheet of paper.

Does it make sense yet? And maybe not – it’s subtle. Perhaps I spend far too much time paying attention to who I am. The way I feel pieces of myself shifting depending on the social situation – the way I focus on what things I can and can’t say – and the moments where I realize I forgot to filter myself. For the most part, I think the filter is a natural part of all of us. One we rarely notice, let alone care to notice. It exists as a part of us the same way our personalities do, and we rarely take the time to compare who we are with our significant others, our one-night partners, our friends, family, and complete strangers. It’s not the same person across the board – some aspects are – but not everything. And that’s okay – we’re allowed to be more than the one-faced version we occasionally display. 

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