I watched the "Mark Twain prize for American humour" ceremony tonight which honoured George Carlin. Apart from laughing like hell over some of the bits they showed ... '2 minutes, get your shit together' .... 'where am I going to put my STUFF?' ..... what struck me most was his personal transformation.
In his album AM/FM he did the 'AM' side (as Bill Maher said "remember when albums had sides?") in his 'crew cut/business suit persona'. The 'FM' side was the 'long haired t-shirt wearing hippy' who Carlin said was the real thing - not a persona at all. He said that HE had become lost in his act. There was no more 'George' in 'George Carlin' and so he transformed.
Dictionary.com references the Jungian view of 'persona' as the mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality' and it all got me thinking about the masks that I wear "to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment".
I have a work persona and a home persona. I have a friend persona and a family persona. I swear comfortably (like a truck driver some might say) with some people but just knowing that would seriously shock some others. I can hold my own when it comes to single malt or a good red wine and yet comfortably spend weeks drinking Perrier. I don't think I'm much different from most people. Honestly anyone who tells you they're the same person in every situation is, in my humble opinion, delusional.
Anyway, for me these masks are protection. As one who suffers from a major social anxiety disorder (some times more debilitating than others) the real me is masked by whatever persona will "satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment".
I used to tell my anam chara that he is the only one who knows the real me. What everyone else sees is what I present to them. I have, over the past year or so, gotten better at showing the real me to more people and luckily haven't been rejected (a key worry of a social anxiety sufferer). But it's the 'old' relationships that I have the most trouble with.
In new relationships, or those that have changed due to other circumstances, I'm more comfortable presenting the real me. In the 'old' ones ... the ones where the persona has a stronghold ... it's much more difficult.
Because in those relationships the persona has become the person. What I mean by that is this ..... when my social anxiety peaks (and for those of you who share this disorder you'll know what I mean) the persona takes over. And if you have long periods where the anxiety is prime then all people see are the persona. And then the persona becomes you. They believe - and why wouldn't they - that the persona is the person. They don't see the person behind the persona. And so they continue to treat you the same way even though you - inside - feel able to drop the persona. They simply aren't able to see you differently and you (or me in this instance .... and after all, it's MY blog so it IS all about ME!) struggle with the person/persona conflict. After all, I've been judged and labelled as the persona. The challenge to show the real you to the people who before then have only known the 'other' can seem insurmountable. Does seem insurmountable.
So what I have to work out is this ..... can I be as brave as George Carlin and flip to the 'B' side - show that 'long haired t-shirt wearing me' to those who only know the other or will the other prevail? Time will tell.
I'll keep you posted.