I believe that every person is actually two, three, or even more personas (representatives) all wrapped into one manikin that calls themself – me, I, or said name – as they navigate through life’s journey.
Person #1: Who we really are deep down, on the inside, where we think no one can see us
Person # 2, 3, +: Who we think we should be in order to be liked, loved, and accepted throughout the different relationships and situations we choose throughout our lives.
Much of my life has been like Mr. Toad’s WIld Ride at Disneyland. For more than two decades, I have zig zagged through a life filled with adventure, rolling hills, steep climbs, steep falls, and beautiful scenery. These years have shown me that – just like the ride at Disneyland – once you sit down and fasten your seat belt, you surrender your control and accept what wackiness lies ahead. What I hadn’t been aware of about this adventure is that what I have been wearing each time I have zigged and zagged throughout the changing climates of life’s wild ride.
During the Covid19 pandemic, like many, I was given the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on life and its current path. During this time, I chose to reconnect with a few favored habits I disconnected with over the years – First stop, reading. I can’t remember who or how, but a book by Glennon Doyle Melton – Love Warrior, landed in my hands early March. The book is a memoir that is written in a language that, I swear, can be heard by whoever reads it. It is so powerful, inspirational, and definitely a missing piece to a puzzle that I have been waiting for for a long time. I could write about so many topics from this book, but today I am writing about the 2nd, 3rd, and + personas that stand in as our representatives on a daily basis.
A representative is a version of you that is sent out into the world in your place. It’s a blander, less authentic person who stands in for you when it doesn’t feel safe to expose the real you.
Your representative is the one who …
- Puts on a fake smile when you’d rather be anywhere else than the meeting you’re sitting in.
- Doesn’t speak up, even when you’ve got an opinion, for fear of being judged.
- Knows exactly what to say to keep being liked and praised.
- Keeps you jumping through hoops, constantly trying to prove your worth.
- Has a need for a bunch of acquaintances, but very few real connections.
Most of us have been sending out a representative for so long that we can’t remember not having one. Infact, most of us believe who we are is most likely one of our representatives. These well dressed disguises have sprung into life for most of us at a very early age. And every time a new or a supped version of the existing representative is born, it always emanates from the same deep fear:
Who you really are is not good enough.
As in, if you tell people what’s really on your mind or what’s going on in your life, they’ll categorize you into whichever category you believe worthy of. Or if you share the real you, everyone will think you’re less or not worthy. Or just maybe, if you don’t keep pretending to “like” where your life has taken you, then you’ll lose it all and the truth will be put on a large screen for all to see.
So instead of being rejected, hurt, or ignored, we choose to send out someone who’s bound to be liked, loved, and accepted. It’s like body armor to protect the extraordinary gift that we already are, but are terrified to introduce to anyone.
Calling out your representative can be scary, but living a life laced with false truths will become heavier and heavier as you zip and zap through your own personal wild ride.
Make your story inside match your outside story.
Tell the story of both sides: When you are anything but fine, don’t say you are fine. Name what you are.
I am scared, and that is ok. At the beginning of the pandemic lockdown we lost all financial income for an indefinite amount of time. Telling people I was fine would have been a lie. I was not fine; I was scared shitless. A roof and food were on the top of my fear list. Followed by pride, failure, and self value. It was the perfect moment to identify which representative I was going to choose to navigate, surrender to, and trust during this time of fear. Who have you chosen to lead you through the pandemic?
I am humbled, and that is enough. Fast forward six months. I sold a physical business to provide food for our family. Remember: The physical does not define you, what lives in you does. We moved out of our home into what we call the Hong Kong apartment. I invite you to use your imagination, but will share with you that it is cozy and filled with love. I trusted that another business we manage would be able to fill in the holes during this time of uncertainty. Today, we have food and shelter for at least twelve months and that is enough. Did you physically give up anything during this challenging time? If so, what did you learn from letting go?
I am not where I imagined myself to be, and that is ok. Present time brings on a second wave and more uncertainty. What I appreciate most about right now is the obvious truth about control and expectation – both are very absent. Somehow, any representative that I might think about bringing out of the closet and putting on just now doesn’t make sense. Funny enough, the true person is becoming the norm and clarity is beginning to prevail. Growing gratitude for where I am, was a big step towards accepting the uncertainty. How are you keeping up with the uncertainty and change during Covid19?
What to do next.
I would like to invite you to imagine a roundtable in which you invite the various representatives of your being, allowing them to name themselves and giving them a chance to speak. Allow each one to weigh in, fully expressing the perspective they represent, and listen without comment. As you listen, you may be amazed at the energy that is stored in these fragments of yourself – both positive and negative. This gathering of personas gives us a look into a closer relationship with ourselves and the understanding of who we are, ultimately enabling us to move forward with grace and confidence as who we truly are.
Continue to work on this and consciously make time for a meeting with your representatives where you ask hard questions of each other. Meanwhile, engage is self care practices that empower person #1 to rise up and represent you. In my personal and career experience, great places to start with understanding oneself and their representatives better is by practicing something physical, but fun (fitness, a hobby, a sport), a quiet time for meditation, and / or journaling exercises. In all three, you can summon the many fragments that make up the whole of who we are and give them each a chance to speak. This can be a helpful tool in exposing truth towards decisions we need to make, and can also be a fruitful path towards a journey into oneself and who we truly are.
What would the true you say to the representative that walks out the door each day to represent you?