Thursday, September 06, 2007

Basking in Masking

I think each of us possess three personas.
1. The person we truly are.
2. The person we’d like others to see us as.
3. The person others see.

I always find it fascinating when someone describes himself with “I’m really such an easy going person” as he spends five minutes telling a waiter how his order should be prepared, practically rewriting the menu. And, the person who claims “I really have simple tastes” as she doles out her platinum credit card for a D&G handbag.

How often do we tell other people things so we believe it ourselves? Do we repeat it hoping to convince ourselves of the truth?

Sometimes repeating the wrong thing can be powerful. For example, someone believes they can’t do something or don’t have it in them to do something, the repetition only drives it in further. “I’m not good enough to make it.” If you repeat it enough, you do believe it and become it.

Watching a talented person put himself or herself down is just as frustrating as watching the ‘simple’ D&G girl prattle. So, who really sees or knows the real person?

Maybe the skeptic in us pries through the layers to find the core persona. The woman who is bitter and bitchy all the time is really alone and the hardness only protects her. We look to our personas as a survival mechanism. These bright faces are put on in the morning so we can protect and leave the soft wrinkled one behind.

That's why the best photographs of people are when they are caught off guard. They drop their plastic smiles and for an instant, the camera captures a person -- the real person, whose face and expressions may be unrecognizable to the owner.

This topic has been on my mind with recent interactions. I wish some people close to me could see themselves the way I see them. It would probably be revitalizing to drop the facades.

Then again, they probably wish the same of me.


Anonymous said...

hmmm food for thought ! it is simpler to be yourself.

Radhika Shivaraman said...

Awesome thoughts, things we have in our mind but not necessarily verbalize or internalize to ourselves or others - i mean the things you've said.

For example, i would never have enough courage to say 'no' to people, that i have worked it into my personality now to say 'no' and mean 'no' and now i have suddenly become this brave personality that i nor others love anymore cuz i'm saying 'no' :)

Write On !!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - Ahh..but the question is WHO is your real self? Do you really know??

TAAMom - I think what you described is something that comes with age. We start to stop trying to please others and express ourselves more. I think it's also a matter of risk -- how much do you stand to lose by saying 'no'? Do you risk a friendship b/c you say no? When you're older, you realize a friendship that doesn't allow you to say 'no' is not worth holding onto.. therefore, not much to risk by saying no.

Venkat said...

I find it more useful to think in terms of stories rather than personas. We don't place constructions on our personalities so much as we place constructions on our histories. The way we tell our stories to ourselves (and when drunk and in the company of a trusted person for many hours, to others) are the real source of the self-describing comments we make to ourselves.

So I wouldn't dismiss the platinum-card wielding friend who describes herself as 'simple'...she may have managed to tell herself an autobiographical story where a quest for simplicit really is the definitive feature of her story.

ZenDenizen said...

Personally, I'm not a fan of candid shots but I see your point.

Anonymous said...

Zen: I have some friends who are into photography and have seen really nice pictures - catching loved ones off guard, laughing or simply reflective state. My daughter loves to 'strike her pose' so I take an average of 10 pictures and keep talking to her until I get a natural photo and see the face I see when there's not a camera around.

VGR: "Stories" is a good word, but I do think persona is still what I have in mind. I started thinking about this more and I think a lot depends on person's scale, how they measure things. She may consider herself simple based on her own scale (10 = Paris Hilton and 1 = Angelina Jolie). Then someone else has a simplicity scale with 10=Angelina Jolie and 1=Mother Teresa. So, then I have to ask whose interpretation is right?