Dropping the Personas

Over the last two years I’ve been up against what I would consider an identity crisis. I’ve tried to maintain multiple personas on the web and my personal life.

Why is that? Well because that’s how I thought it worked. Little did I realize I was completely wrong… at least in my world.

After many years of doing web design and development I came upon the idea that I should stop doing the work for others and branch out on my own.

It seemed simple. I’ve worked for companies of all shapes and sizes and been involved in so many aspects of those businesses that I saw it as a natural step.

This led to the start of my crisis.

I’m a father of two wonderful children, one of which is on the autism spectrum. I’m a husband to a wife who faces daily struggles with her own ailments.

I’ve done everything I can to provide for my family, however being a bit of a workaholic at times I’m absent far too often.

The development of the personas grew from these different areas of my life. I tried to compartmentalize these areas into their own neat little packages.

It didn’t work.

It only led to a complete disconnect to the point that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had all these avatars that followed me around. I had my Father and Husband avatars on one hand and then my Day Job Manager and Moonlighting Entrepreneur avatars on the other, among several others.

I had a friend who asked me a question that finally made me stop and think. It was so simple yet escaped me for far too long.

“What do you want for yourself?”

When I went to answer her, I paused. I couldn’t answer. My head bounced from one persona to another and I couldn’t make anything of my thoughts. After a few seconds of sheer confusion I could only mutter “I don’t know.”

I spent the next few weeks kicking things around, trying to put my finger on where I went wrong and it dawned on me.

I have been spending so much time trying to create the person that I thought each of those areas of my life wanted or needed that I never just gave myself as a whole. I would mold myself into that which I thought would be best suited.

I couldn’t break from it either. Every attempt in a change just led me right back to square one. My goal was to try to remain my own true authentic self no matter the environment I was in.

I still fight with it on a regular basis. I did realize that I’m more relaxed and happier which has improved every area of my life.

Keeping Yourself Accountable

In order to find and maintain this true authentic self I assembled a list of things to check myself on a regular basis.

  1. Don’t borrow an identity
    Trying to be someone else will never work. You need to live your life, not one of someone else. Following the “I wanna be like Mike” agenda doesn’t serve you. It may for a short period of time, however you will eventually lose the facade and you’re back where you started.

  2. Be human
    We’re not infallible. Don’t go about your life trying to hide your differences, oddities, mistakes and so on. Be what you are… human. Sounds easy, but at times you’d be surprised. Don’t expect to be perfect. I guarantee even if you watch someone else always doing it right, you are only seeing them at their best. All the failures already happened and you weren’t looking.

  3. Learn to say No
    This was a big one. I used to say “yes” and go along with everything. Even when it didn’t go along with what I believed, was comfortable with or just downright didn’t like. I felt that I was denying myself at times. You will find out more about yourself when you remove those instances that are toxic.

  4. Self reflection and discovery
    Cut away the crust and discover who you are, what makes you happy and where you want to be. Ponder your potential, goals and dreams. Make a list of them to remind you of them. Once you have this understanding ask yourself often if what you are doing meets this. If not change it.

  5. Take action
    More often than not, this is the hardest part. Take action on your authenticity. At first for me it took some prodding. I needed to actively make myself get past these crutches. Once I got into a groove it became the norm. Don’t let fear of perception get in the way. Break free of the personas and do whats in your heart, not what you think someone else wants.

After going through all these things life became very different for me. I am more relaxed in my work and open to ideas and change.

I have more confidence in my efforts to break out on my own. I’ve become better at being myself at home with my family.

Take these steps and drop the personas. Show the world who you truly are.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash