All the world’s a stage

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?


A realistic optimist just trying to find her way.


  • moonwalkerwiz

    I like this theory, too. But I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “back stage.” Even when we’re all alone and absolutely nobody can hear us, we’re still presenting ourselves to ourselves. There’s no time when our defenses are completely dropped and all our little pretensions and the games we, consciously or unconsciously, play with ourselves end. They’re still there whether we admit it or not. Does that mean we’re intrinsically fake? Perhaps. But so what? Lies are there for a reason. Pretensions are there for a reason. Sometimes, they can be the only things that can prop us up against a cruel world that will mercilessly put us down just for laughs. We need to take it easy on ourselves.

  • Jody Alarva

    That’s a very interesting viewpoint. For me, I think us presenting ourselves to ourselves is part of identifying who we are as people, and on a certain level, we find a comfort in that. I do think that people should, in general, be easier on themselves, but whatever makes them happy, what drives them to be better, is also good. 🙂

  • moonwalkerwiz

    Yeah. But the problem is some people are so good at presenting themselves to themselves–empowering themselves with all the arguments, lies, and self-help they can find–that they somehow convince themselves that they’re good people. And that’s probably the danger of losing all sense of a “back stage,” the time to drop all pretensions and just look at yourself for who or what you truly are–you end up becoming a monster without you knowing.

  • Jody Alarva

    That also makes sense, a person can delude themselves to the point of not realizing their actual self. I guess it all depends on the endurance of the act, the ability of the actor to maintain the illusion to others as well.

  • moonwalkerwiz

    “Delude”–I like that word. The delusion arising out of one’s illusions. People like that should be forced to see their true selves even if that would hurt them–wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

  • Jody Alarva

    I think as long as they’re not hurting other people with their delusions or hurting themselves, I’m okay with people deluding themselves. 🙂

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