Many years ago a friend visited my class to see what one of my university classroom experiences was like. When it was over, I heard some surprising feedback:
“You are the same person as a professor as you are outside the classroom!”
I was startled by this. And for years afterwards I mulled over this statement as I learned about the different personas and affectations people choose to take on and are forced into.
As children we start by learning that our mother expects us to behave in a certain way and our father in a different manner. And then we learn our siblings want us to behave in another way. And then we learn our teacher at school has another expectation again.
With each expectation that is projected onto us we make a choice as to who we are.
And for most people something unconscious happens: In order to “survive” certain contexts and expectations we split ourselves into more than one persona. A very typical one is becoming one persona for our parents and one for our friends. And another is the persona who appears every day in public school when we walk into the school. Another persona is constructed in order to become “liked” as a teenager by a peer group. And in order to be desired by someone in a romantic manner another persona is created.
And I learned how the taking on of various personas and affectations can be a real challenge to undo if they become so deeply ingrained and so habitual that the “real” person is now buried under that collection of personas and no longer knows who “it” is.
And this can be a significant barrier to finding peace inside oneself and to walking a more gentle spiritual path.
Ask yourself these questions:
“How many personas have I consciously and unconsciously created and taken on?”
“How does having all these different ways of being in the world making me feel?”
“Who is the ‘real me’ persona? Does it feel like there is one at all? Or am I now a fragmented collection of different personas that perhaps one might be the real one?”
Then go and sit quietly alone and in a peaceful place. Identify that one “real you” persona. You will likely find it in your very earliest childhood memories and in the quiet safety of being alone where you are sitting.
Gently hold that persona in your mind, heart, and body.
You may cry. This is natural. It has likely been a very long time since you felt the real you.
You have just taken the first step on an important journey: The journey of becoming one person again.
Ask yourself one final question:
“Would you like the ‘real you’ to be the single strong, clear, loving, joyful person in all aspects of your life from now on?“
If the answer is “yes” then set a strong intention right now, with all your strength, love, and spirit:
“I love you, my real self. You are my one and only way of being in the world from now on.
It may take some time for me to undo and let go of the many personas I have created over my lifetime.
And I may slip back into one or more of them for a few minutes. But I will quickly remember that you are my true self and come back home to you faster and faster each time.
I am only my one true self at all times, for everyone, and everywhere I find myself.
I am home.”