In my natural state, that is, in a familiar environment in which I feel safe and accepted, I consider myself to be a casual, companionable, slightly irreverent person. I’ll talk candidly about my feelings. I’ll make jokes. I’ll swear quite a bit and feel free to simply live life, and go along with the flow of things. This is how I wish I could live all the time, but that’s simply not possible. Life isn’t always about relaxing in one’s natural habitat. One has to get out there in the world and adapt to external demands. So, like a normally developed person, I’ve learned to regulate and change my behavior in a way that aligns with specific situations. For instance: I don’t wear pajama pants to church, I don’t swear around children, I don’t discuss or display my feelings in a professional environment (if I can help it). These are social customs that I try to abide by, because it’s the respectful and appropriate thing to do.
Learning to be appropriate while simultaneously maintaining one’s identity is a true balancing act, and leaning too far towards either side leads to trouble. If one lost who they were in an effort to conform and be socially appropriate, they would also lose the unique gifts they have to offer the environment they’re in and the people they’re with. However, if one completely disregarded all social customs in favor of being completely true to whims and personal expression, they would be inappropriate and tactless.
Becoming more socially appropriate and less individualistic, I believe, comes with getting older. As one continues aging, the struggle turns more towards trying not to lose oneself in every trivial folkway. Life swings like a pendulum, and all things are a matter of balance.