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The Authentic Use Of A Persona

Lee Ann Lambert at Living Introverted has written a post on the necessity of having a “persona“.  The post discusses how your persona makes social interaction easier and protects your self.  As I read Lee Ann’s post I asked myself – “Can you still be yourself and have a persona?”  I think the answer is “yes.”

When I write for this blog I always hope to convey the importance of living life authentically and “becoming yourself.”  Too many times in my own life I found myself acting in a way that was consistent with other people and not with myself.  Living life as myself is one of my main goals and I’ve tried to to base all of my actions on my own self-knowledge.

However, living life authentically does not mean that you still don’t need to use your persona, and it doesn’t mean that you are “fake” if you do.  Revealing yourself fully to everyone that you meet would not only be exhausting, but dangerous (psychologically).  Giving someone access to the real you is an act of trust and is only meant to be given to a few.  Having a persona is a way to protect yourself while still acting authentically.  It is the way that we make our social interactions smooth and pleasant.

The persona is usually thought of like a mask.  But, I think a better way to think about it is like “make-up.”  A mask disguises us so others can’t tell who we are, but make-up simply accentuates the parts you want to show and covers up those that you don’t.  A persona helps communicate what we want and allows those things we don’t to fade into the background.

There is tension between being who you are and being a member of a group.  The persona helps us to do both.  We don’t reveal all of who we are, but we also don’t put on a complete disguise.  We can act in a way that is authentic with who we are, while still attending to the needs and expectations of the group (which there always is).

Unfortunately, there is the chance that we will use the persona to a degree that we will identify with it and not with our true self.  When this happens, your persona becomes not about what you want to communicate, but what other people want to see of you.  The danger is not in using a persona, it’s becoming a persona.

What do you think?  Can you “be yourself” and use a persona at the same time?  Let us know what you think in the comments!

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11 Comments

  1. Hi Amanda

    I like your explanation of persona i.e. there to show what (authentic) parts we want display, but retain the areas we prefer not sharing. I think the important thing is to have an awareness of what we are /aren’t showing and when. If we know that, we can ensure authenticity.

    Thank you for some food for thought!

    Juliet

    LifeMadeGreat – Juliet’s last blog post..An Interview with Tom Volkar from Delightful Work

  2. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Juliet – Yes, I don’t think the persona we use when we are out and about has to be a disguise, it simply smooths the way for us with other people. 🙂

  3. Loved your explanation of persona, doesn’t leave room for doubt. Becoming a persona rather than using one – wow, that’s one scary thought. But I guess if we play persona 24*7 then there are chances that we forget who we were and become who we portray ourselves we.

    Avani-Mehta’s last blog post..New Year Resolution – Learnings & Updates

  4. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Avani – Right, there is a chance we can use our persona too much. I think you’ve hit on the right word for that – “forget.” Forgetting who we are can be prevented by finding ways to continually connect with our “center” – that piece that is truly us. 🙂

  5. Hi Amanda

    This is a great article for me because a friend recently asked if I was using a persona for my blog and I was trying to explain that the blog brings out a certain aspect of me, as authentic as all other aspects. You made the point much more clearly here, so I emailed her this post. Thanks!

    Daphne’s last blog post..Book Review: Flying By the Seat of My Soul

  6. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Daphne – That’s an interesting question for a blogger. I suppose we all use a persona when we blog, right? But, I think you gave her the right answer – that it brings out a certain (authentic) side of you. Thanks for passing my post along 🙂

  7. Hi Amanda,
    This one’s really got me thinking today. Thinking about what a persona really is, for me, and what that means. I actually have been finding myself being more true to myself since I’ve started writing. I’m more about living as who I really am at the core. Still, though, there are times I do wear that personal like make up. And there’s probably a reason for that. And I think it’s exactly as you’re describing, for me anyway. It would be exhausting to be fully revealing all the time – so I do like what you’re saying. There…I walked myself through my thought process as I typed this!

    I wonder, too, is there a fine line between what’s considered persona and what’s considered fully real – and how do we know, deep down, then, which side of that fine line we’re on sometimes…

    Lance’s last blog post..And Practice Will Go On

  8. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Lance – Thinking while writing is allowed! 🙂 That’s interesting you mention feeling more true to yourself since you began blogging. I would say the same for myself. I think the process of writing is also a process of self exploration, so feeling more authentic seems natural. (I’m doing some thinking too as I write this and unfortunately don’t feel so eloquent!) I also often feel a responsibility to be authentic – I put these posts up for people to read and I want to give them the best of me.

  9. Hi Amanda, often times people try to cover up their weaknesses with being somebody else. I do it too sometimes because i want someone to look at me as a different person, and i think it is a challenge for all of us to be ourselves.
    Thanks for sharing, Amanda. 🙂
    Stumbled.

    Arswino’s last blog post..If Tomorrow Never Comes

  10. Amanda,
    I think that IS it – writing is also a form of self exploration for me. And in the process, the “real” me is being unwrapped a little more all the time. No, I think this is very good Amanda. I really do, you’re on to something here – it’s like an “ah-ha” moment for me – reading what you’ve written. As in – that’s it! Writing is a form of exploring who I really am!

    And just so you know, you do come across, very much, as being authentic. And what you write is always so good. So, know that you’re doing what you want to be doing…

    Lance’s last blog post..And Practice Will Go On

  11. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Arswino – Yes, many times we are tempted to cover up our weaknesses and that’s when our persona can get out of control. Wanting to be somebody else is a feeling that, I think, everyone has from time to time. But, I think when you begin to explore what you like about yourself (and not focus too much on weaknesses) that’s when you really begin to have fun in your own body. 🙂

    Hi Lance – Yeah, “unwrapped” is a good word. When you have an idea that you want to express or a story to tell you really have to struggle to get it to come out onto paper. That process involves a high degree of looking inside yourself. Thanks for the compliments – it’s nice to hear that out loud (or on a screen, I guess) 🙂

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