Once there was a little boy who was so afraid of the world he never came out of his isolated cave. One day a strange old lady found him and gave him a magic cloak. This cloak could change his form to anything. The boy disguised himself as a fully grown man. The boy disguised as the man met many grown people and they became friends. Many years progressed and the man forgot the boy.
This is a problem in today’s society, the fact that people put on personas or facades. People do this for several reasons; a few are because of self-distaste and social demands. These things cause pressure to a person that makes them want to change or change unconsciously. If society would be more comfortable with itself then people would stop feeling the need to change themselves because they put on a persona to hide themselves. You may put on a persona to shield your true self from people who you might be ashamed to show your true self to. People do this in several ways one of which is by having a “higher” language or vocabulary. Another way is to act confident which many people are guilty of doing. Finally, the third way is by hiding behind something that isn’t a facade. These things are so easy to do sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing it.
The path of getting a “higher” vocabulary than others is probably most common. All you have to do is use a Thesaurus and look up alternative words to your average words and then you already sound smarter. Right? Maybe to the typical person you may even sound like a genius, but if you looked up some of these new words they may mean something completely different than your original word. In that case you sound like a total moron to an actual genius. Also, there are people that use words that sound good, but are simply annoying to others. For instance in Catcher in the Rye Holden, the main character comments, “Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke everytime I hear it.”1 The simple answer to this problem is to be content with what you have in this way and in other ways. This will cause a domino effect to make you more comfortable with yourself making this unnecessary.
Acting confident is possibly the second most common. To do this you need to pretend that you are good at what you are doing, whether it is talking to girls or if it is being a great presenter. Now this is a demeaning concept in and of itself. In order to pretend to have confidence you have to say to yourself, “I’m bad at this so I need to act.” This is not an entirely bad thing to do to help you slowly gain confidence, but if it is all you’re doing then you need to find a new way to find confidence. Some situation where it is healthy to do it is in sports, presenting, or even talking to girls. If it defines who you are then this would be a momentary persona. Also you may have a momentary persona with needing to deal with how people act. In a case study on a lady nicknamed “Queeny” because of her erratic behavior a nurse remarked, “Naturally, all the nurses were frightened of her and did not want to take care of her. But they had no choice.” (Williams). These nurses may have had to put up a persona just to be able to handle this patient. This is a very borderline persona type, but none the less it still has its pros and cons.
The third and possibly the easiest way to have a fake persona is to hide behind something. There are several things to hide your personality behind like school, sports, religion, friends, and family. Now each of these things in moderation is excellent, but hiding your personality to the point where there is no more of you in it then it is bad. These things are so easy to do you might not know you are doing it. Using the formula of “How much of me is in this thing?” you can see if it is a persona or not. This can be done because people don’t like each themselves so they want to escape into person or group like the things mentioned above. A way to achieve avoiding this is by having a self actualization. As Carl Rodgers said, “The only question which matters is ‘Am I living in a way that is deeply satisfying to me?’” (Myers). Using this question you may be able to find a greater sense of self-worth and not feel the need to do these things.
These practices are easy to do unintentionally and intentionally. These ways are not proven to work, but can help with these problems. Sometimes a façade is a nice thing to have, but it can be too hard to maintain or even manage sometimes. It can also be annoying to others as shown in the quote from Catcher in the Rye. Altogether personas are a bad thing in general and should be stopped when possible.
Myers, David G., New York, Worth Publishers, 2004, Print
Salinger, J.D., New York, Little Brown and Company, May 1991, Print
“When a Doctor Hates a Patient: Case History, Literary Histories.” William Carlos Williams: A Study of the Short Ficiton. Robert Gish. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989. 152-158. Twayne’s Studies in Short Fiction 10. Twayne’s Authors on GVRL. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.