And all the men and women merely players.
Chances are you’ve heard these lines before, from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, but also, it’s the fundamental idea between one of my favorite theories in Sociology called Dramaturgy, a theory that suggests that a person’s identity is constantly remade as they interact with others, that is an ever changing thing depending on who they’re with or where they are.
Before you tune me out as a dork or nerd that uses theories from her college major in everyday life, think about it. Doesn’t everyone have a persona? This theory merely offers that a person’s social self is played out on a stage, and his actions, words, and all things that he does present to others to give a particular impression to others.
That being said, how many personas does one person really have? Do we really have an actual “real” self? A “back stage” that no one else is privy to. Do we manage our personas even with the people that know our most intimate selves, or do we try to control the audience to the reality we think we present to the world?
In this theory, the back stage is the persona done when there is no audience. That bothers me a little, because for me it means for every other person than ourselves, we present an augmented version of ourselves to control the impression we make, for people other than ourselves.
Sure you may say in your head that you are yourself in front our your family, your loved ones, and others, but how confident are you in that presumption? Don’t you hold at least 1% back? And why do you? These people are supposed to accept you unconditionally and know you backwards to forwards, up and down. How much reality do you really present in the platform at home, or with people you love or care for?
I guess I’ve been thinking about this because I’m not really sure who I am anymore. My life has taken a turn so severe that I’m being forced to look at me for me, and I don’t know where the actor ends and the person begins. When you ask me now who I am, I will give you shallow answers like “I like ice cream.” or “The beach rocks.” but who I am intrinsically, I’m still figuring out.
So I’m a little lost. I’m definitely not acting too much because I suck at it, but I am admittedly taking on personas for the different aspects of my life. The work persona, the person I am with different groups of friends, the one with certain members of my family.
I think what I’m saying is that even though I put on different faces, they’re still a part of me. I may not be 100% sure who this person is, but it’s a person that’s on her way to finding out. If it takes 10 weeks, 10 months, or 10 years, I know it’s a work in progress, and I will have fun, be in pain, hurt others in the process, but I will know who that person is.
Who are you today?