Personal / Reflections

Reconciling my multiple selves

Said like that you could think that I have a multiple personality disorder, couldn’t you?  Well, the answer is that I don’t seem to have any psychological disorder. However I realized years ago that I wasn’t the same when I was with my family than when I was with friends or when I was alone or when I was with a boyfriend. I hated it when I had to mix these closed compartments because I didn’t know how to behave and that was highly stressing.

Good to know I am not the only one with multiple selves:

We tend to be different when we play such different roles as spouse, parent, a member of a religious or social group or as a citizen of a country. For example, as a member of a religious or social group one may have a lot of compunction in underreporting his or her income, but the same person, as a citizen, may underreport his or income to evade taxes.

We all have at least two selves, a private self and a social self. The need to seek approval and social status and please others largely determines and shapes the image we socially project.

(Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D)

This might be normal, but I still didn’t like it. And I realized I really hated few years ago when I was going out with someone. I was really attracted to his personality: very confident and smart, bordering the arrogance sometimes. Then we got to know each other more deeply and we started having a relationship. The way he behaved when he was with me was completely different than when he was with other people, he was much less confident, so when he was with me he felt like in a cocoon where he could show himself as it was, no need to keep that image he wanted to show to the other people. And the truth is that I felt privileged… for a while. It started to anguish me hearing other people talking about  how arrogant and shallow my boyfriend was and not being able to talk about that other side he showed with me. At the same time I found myself not recognizing him when we were with his not close friends or colleges, he was an stranger. Obviously the relationship came to an end and I learnt that if I hated so much this multiple faces in others I had to combine my own multiple ones and become one.

So I started to re-finding myself. What was what I liked about my behavior with my family, close friends or partners and integrate it to the way I was when I was alone. So, there I was, in my aim to be true to myself, even if this only one self wasn’t liked for some of my people. I lost friends in the process but I felt less heavy, freer, I didn’t have to maintain different faces to please everybody. I became the one and only me!

But this evolution couldn’t be so simple. I recently noticed a new self arising. I realized that I am different when I travel. And I realized I love this “me traveling”, who has the capacity of enjoy every second of the journey, every detail. I enjoy every raindrop as much as every sunbeam, and a simple cup of coffee by the canal seems much more pleasurable.

So I have a regular self for every day use and another one for traveling. Being on that journey of finding the best version of me, seems counterproductive to limit myself to the partial version who enjoys life just by halves. That makes me wonder why I can’t seem to integrate my regular self with my travel self? I luckily found the solution easily: I don’t plan to stay in my hometown for much longer.

What about you? You have several selves? How do you handle them?

10 thoughts on “Reconciling my multiple selves

  1. hi Maria, i think for many people – they have a social self when they are with friends, work or traveling. and then their true nature – who they are when they are by themselves. that is probably the authentic self and trying to be that person at all times is what I’m trying to do.

    here’s a question, you want to be your travel self more so you’re going to travel, right? But can you become your travel self when you are not traveling:) ? or another way to ask the question – can you integrate your travel self with your regular ‘self’?

    • Hi,

      Answering your question: what I’m trying to do since I’m back in my hometown is exactly that, I’m trying to integrate my travel self in the regular one, but I lack the hunger of discovering new places and doing new things because everything is too familiar, that’s why I’m not able to find the motivation to go out and that’s why I stay much more time at home, I don’t enjoy the little pleasures as much because they became monotonous… So traveling or living abroad is my solution 🙂

  2. Hey Maria! Great post, very confessional, I love this type of writing.

    As for travel you’re right it really does bring yourself out of yourself so that you can learn more. Keep doing it and you’ll keep surprising yourself. Love your blog!

    • Hi Will!

      Thank you very much for your nice words, they are very encouraging.

      I agree with you, nothing best than traveling! 🙂

  3. I wonder if what you’re getting by traveling – that joy and sense of the numinous – is partly because when you’re traveling you’re so hyper-aware of everything that’s around you. Nothing is familiar, and so you treasure it as fleeting and unique.

    But I also wonder if you would be able to gain that same feeling while living abroad? Would it become predictable, comfortable …. thus losing what you were looking for? Or is it simply a trait that your hometown holds no wonder for you.

    Interesting to think through all the possibilities.

    • Hi Colleen,

      The main reason why I enjoy everything more while traveling is exactly what you said about being more aware and awake. However, by own experience, I know that I don’t loose that feeling after living abroad for while, because I kind of like the feeling of familiar I get after a while living in a new place, as long as the place has character of course. I agree with you in that we have to think about all the possibilities though, that’s always positive.

      Thanks for reading!

  4. Reading your article reminds me of a famous comedian in the Netherlands who once explained that he would often go and sit in the audience chairs looking at people who where preparing things on the stage. Often someone was doing something on the stage alone. The comedian noticed that when they where alone he saw the real person. He enjoyed looking at them because at those moments those people where completely them self.

    • And it’s true, so my question was why we behave differently sometimes when we are with other people? I think that if you like yourself as you are when you are alone, then there’s no need to change when you are in company…

  5. Wow wonderful post, thank you for writing about this! It’s always been a huge issue for me, not only dealing with the different sub-personlities in different external situations but also the internal ones…there are just too many! Thankfully with time I’ve stopped feeling like they’re mutually exclusive and individual and have just accepted them, and they seem to be integrating slowly into a harmonious whole (which is still very weird but it’s ME) 🙂

    • Weirdness… ahhh, yes, I understand perfectly! I still have few different inner personas but I guess we are different in different situations or environments. As long as we are true to ourselves I think we are ok 🙂

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