The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

It’s not uncommon for people to have what’s known conveniently as a “Public Self”. This is the image you project to other people. In psychology, this is the basis of the concept of personality, which as you might know comes from the Greek “persona” which means “mask”.

Now, in the age when people value the “true self”, and when imperfections are celebrated as the root of “real beauty”, one might begin to ponder, is my public self a betrayal of who I really am?

First, I think it’s worth mentioning that the phenomenon of the Public Self is an entirely natural thing. It’s prerequisite when immersing yourself in any social situation that you project a set of characteristics that promote how you want to be perceived. Whether this image is agreeable or not is detemined mostly on how you want to position yourself in other people’s minds.

I’m personally of the opinion that some people tend to take this phenomenon to the extreme. Sometimes, a person’s image is so totally beyond the norm of what is expected of them that they are labeled “poseurs”. The term poseur itself is a pretentious version of the word it represents, poser.

Typically, poseurs project an image of wealth or popularity. In a third-world country, image is everything. Any way that you can dilineate yourself from the rest, especially in terms of economic status is, for some people, a goal in life.

This is most frequently observed among the noveau-riche and the upper-middle to middle class.

I’m sure you’ve heard outrageous stories from some of your so-called friends claiming to be chauffered around, though you’ve never seen a hint of such luxury. Imaginary phone calls, affected accents, spur-of-the-moment trips abroad (without even a single photograph for documentation), a sudden conversion to Kabbalah, these are just some of the tell-tale signs that we all love to gossip about.

In a way, I think everyone is guilty of posing. I sometimes find myself in a situation when people expect me to continually be my public self. But there are days when I just want to be my anti-social self.

There are even times when I question how much of my public self actually factors into my personality. Well, my public self isn’t so different from my private self anyway. Basically, when I’m by myself or with a select group of people, I’m more introspective and less comedic.

These past few days people have asked me if there were anything wrong with me. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been my usual outgoing self. I have to admit that sometimes, playing the comic relief can get real tiring. I don’t blame other people for expecting me to always be happy. That’s the image I created for myself. Frankly, I don’t mind if that’s the only image they have of me. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just wish they’ll understand when I don’t have a punchline at one time or another.

Like what they say about icebergs, the image is always just a small part of the person within. For poseurs, it’s a good sign that most of the glitter around them must be hot air. For the rest, it’s a challenge to go deeper.

Every now and then the world turns upside down, and the image becomes concealed so you can see the rest of the person. Let’s just hope that you’re able to see through them enough to know that what you’re seeing is the real thing and not mistake it for the mask.