Some people surprise you when you really get to know them. The shy guy at the party might open up once you're in a smaller group. The coworker who keeps their head down at the office may be a total gossip at Friday night happy hour. What feels like a bait-and-switch is actually a common astrological phenomenon in which someone's rising sign doesn't quite match their sun sign.
If you've checked out your birth chart, you may already know what your rising sign is (if not, don't stress — all you need is your birth date, time, and place to find out). This is the sign that was rising (get it?) over the horizon at the moment you were born. It's supposed to indicate who you are at first glance, the first impression you leave with a stranger. For example, someone with an Aries rising might be very outgoing and direct — they're the type to walk right up to the boss and introduce themselves at work.
In The Rising Sign: Your Astrological Mask, astrologer Jeanne Avery writes that the rising sign can function as "a wall or a facade," behind which you hide your full self. So, even if your rising sign traits are the first qualities that people notice about you, they don't tell the full story about your behaviour, likes, and dislikes. It's when your sun sign shines through that others get a better idea of your overall persona. And, that only happens after you exchange names and hellos.
As you might already know, your sun sign is the sign that you normally choose when reading your horoscope. It reflects your basic, overall personality — nothing too deep. But, your sun sign can be the source of certain quirks that you don't readily show in front of strangers. And, as we mentioned earlier, if it's radically different from your rising sign (maybe you have a moody Scorpio sun behind that bold Aries rising), you might be used to hearing friends tell you, "I thought you were so different when we first met," or something to that effect.
That's because you were leading with your Aries rising when you first met those friends — even if you weren't aware of it at the time. It was only later, after you passed the "acquaintance" stage, that your Scorpio sun took centre stage. (If you want to know how your rising and sun signs interact to form your outward personality, Astrotheme has near-encyclopedic descriptions for all 144 possible combinations. And, if your sun and rising signs are relatively similar, like breezy Libra and fellow air sign Gemini, you might not deal with this issue at all.)
Avery also writes that you tend to show more of your rising sign upon meeting someone new because it simply comes easily to you in the moment. When you aren't thinking about how you come off, and are just focused on getting to know someone, your rising sign is on full display. Luckily, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
It's an accepted truth, inside and outside of the astrological community, that first impressions are often misleading. So, even if you think it makes your personality shine, don't feel obligated to lean heavily on your rising sign in everyday interactions. At some point, that wall's got to come down.