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Personae - Ed's journal
sobrique
sobrique
Personae
Well, a while back I wrote a post about 'people's varied faces'.

I was just thinking about that, recently. You see, since that post I've become involved in roleplay, most specifically live action roleplay. In an abstract sense, it's a case of assuming a persona in what amounts to a consequence free environment - At least, the consequences are in game, rather than 'out of game'.

The reason I think this is interesting, is because for ... about 4 years now, I've been playing a character at Maelstrom, that I essentially set up to be a bit of an extravert. Thorn's a priest of one of the in character religions. Part of that involves wandering around camp sites spreading the 'good word'.

Believe it or not, I've not always been particularly good at approaching people - throughout school I was actually quite introverted and quiet at times, and would very rarely initiate contact with someone I didn't know quite well.

I did start at... about university ... trying to put aside that. Didn't do all that well, but ... well it was a start. What's really made the difference though, I think is getting to explore that part of me, at a LARP - I got to play someone who was confident and outgoing, but allowing my to 'abstract' a bit, the initial discomfort of 'saying hello'. I mean, most people - especially at a LARP - are actually quite nice, but it does take a certain amount of proving to yourself that actually this is the case.

Which brings me to the question - as you build and rebuild your various personae, do you ever get to a point where those shadow walls around yourself converge on the 'real you'? And is it actually possible to modify who you are through a concious choice, or is it just the case that you're resisting/forcing yourself internally? I mean in the sense that one can choose to swear less, e.g. around children, by being observant, but is it actually possible to stop being the kind of person who does?

How much do these pressures cost us? If we're either consciously or unconciously changing ourselves, then at what point do we lose sight of who we were?
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Comments
mrph From: mrph Date: September 14th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I missed the original post until now, which is a pity. It's something I've been wondering about a lot recently (which links back into the whole Johari window thing, and the feedback it garnered)...

To some degree, my various personas are a little overgrown. I'm trying to work with that these days. I'm still self-conscious about anything that lets people see some parts of me too clearly, and I need to fix that - I visible hesitate sometimes, apparently.

...but I'm currently trying to pull the 'work' me and a couple of other aspects together, just because the differences are starting to cause serious grief - and are also highlighting the fact that I can do things that, for some reason, the 'relevant' persona seems to stumble with.

If that makes any sense.
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sobrique From: sobrique Date: September 14th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
But how does that interact with maintaining multiple personae? Be it the 'work you' the 'party you' or spilling over into the 'in roleplay games' you.

Y'see, I'm definitely noticing Thorn has kind of come to the forefront a bit more than when I first started playing him. Not really in a bad way or anything, but ... I'm wondering how much of it is a bit of me that was repressed, and how much is me changing.
jorune From: jorune Date: September 15th, 2008 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I think wearing different hats/different persona is a common feature for most people; I also think that the environment you are in morphs who you are and who you can be. I believe that we all can change who we are and who want to be. There's many a fine actor who is a completely different person when the camera is turned on.

I'll hazard a guess that you have subconsciously being storing a mental library of experiences and Thorn is allowing you to try them for size. As to whether it was repressed I'm not entirely sure, perhaps it was like a suit in the wardrobe which was there to be worn and just waiting for the occasion to try it on. It is now getting a healthy airing and appears to be a valid part of you.

You may find that there are many parts within you that play key roles, the son, the IT specialist, Thorn, friend to other people, brother, etc. These parts could have conflicting wants and desires, i.e. the son may wish to be close to the parents and have a steady rewarding job whereas another part could want to travel the world or work in a remote location that is far from home. Your role as Ed, the holder of all these parts, is to understand them, find out what they want and negotiate any conflicts there may have. Once that is done you may find yourself a happier person.

I learnt about the topic in a finance and psychology seminar I attended. An example was given of a trader who made good money throughout the year but who would occasionally self sabotage. His trading history was filled with consistent returns mixed up with impulsive trades that would lose lots of cash. After getting in touch with the parts in his head he discovered one aspect of character was the desire to take risks and be a thrill seeker. This wasn't happening enough in his life so he would subconsciously seek thrills by putting on ever more risky trades until he had experienced the emotional feeling he was after. In this case the subconscious mind was overriding the conscious mind because one part of his mind was not getting the expression it required. He negotiated a truce between the thrill seeker part and the trader part, he would go sky diving for thrills leaving the trader free from self sabotage. That worked and the next year's figures was one of his best.

If you want to figure out more about personal psychology and how you might change it there are tons of websites about this kind of stuff. My experience about the self help/self understanding industry, it's books, seminars, etc is that subjectivity plays a large part in the proceedings. Therefore your mileage may vary and the value of what you read or experience will largely depend on the writer or teacher and whether it chimes with your life. For any self help material there are generally an equal number of people who claim that it a) made sense to them or b) doesn't work, it's all a sham!.
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elrohana From: elrohana Date: September 14th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been wearing multiple personae for years, to deal with different situations I found difficult as a child. I've been pretending for so long to be this strong, confident person, I have, to all intents and purposes, become one. I've spent so much time trying to be impervious to insults, that I have, in effect, become immmune. All of which counts for just as long as the person before me does not matter to me. If they do, then I am soft, gentle, vulnerable, easily hurt, needy, and paranoid that I'm doing something wrong. You start to lose sight of who you used to be, who the 'real' you is, when you stop letting the people you are about see that 'core' person. Beloved knows I am a performer in public - he even comments sometimes that I am 'acting up to the audience' if he thinks I am going over the top. He also knows that I am just 'me' in front of him - weaknesses, frailties, quirks, flaws and ugliness all on show. I hide some things from some people, and other things from other people. I tend to 'be' the person the other person 'needs' me to be. Only a small number of very close people ever see all of the real me. You can force yourself to be someone else, but its better if you just 'pretend' and remember to show your real face to the people you love. That way you're less likely to 'lose' that 'real you'.
mrph From: mrph Date: September 15th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
A wise comment. I think I recognise a lot of the things you mention here, although I wouldn't have been able to nail them down in words.
phyrbyrd From: phyrbyrd Date: September 14th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have been fighting against my crippling insecurity since I was a teenager - since a few years into college I've been mostly able to ignore the voice in my head telling me that no-one wants me around or cares what I think, and this is the main reason I'm sometimes pretty vain. It's also why I rarely refuse a complement. So far the mentality 'if I make a fool of myself in front of these people I don't have to see them for x amount of time/ever' has helped but sometimes something - an outright rejection, or something I planned not going exactly right - will crack the shell. That tends to hit pretty hard.
crashbarrier From: crashbarrier Date: September 15th, 2008 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I have recently I have been giving this very subject a lot of thought. I am stuck in a quandry where I am not sure if who I am and who I am percieved by others to be are even close to the same thing.
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