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Jason L. Shiffer

I am what I am

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I believe we all have multiple fictitious persona that we maintain in order to deal with the various aspects of the world around us; work, family, friends, online, and sometimes, even ourselves.

In Oscar Wilde’s play, from which the title of this post comes, the main male characters are leading double lives in order to avoid their social obligations. These characters seem to be acting out each other lives so that they can do what they want, as their other persona, without negative repercussions on their day-to-day life.

This is not exactly where I am coming from (but reasonably close). I am talking about how we act differently with our boss then with our co-workers or how we will say some things to our friends then with our parents.

I have maintained a number of persona through out my life, however rather then each being a completely different person they are just shades of the “real me”. I mask my eccentricities to different levels with different people.

Some would only see the Confident Engineer, while others might get to know the Amateur Artist and yet others only get to meet the man that grew up on a farm bailing hay and mucking pig stalls.

I shade these different aspects of myself from others because, at some level, I believe people won’t be able to see past one trait or another. That they will impose assumed limits on me due to their narrow view of that aspect of me.

What I failed to realize, up to this point, was that these same filters create other limits in peoples eyes. As they are only given a small view into what I am they can only be expected to assume that is all there is; that the systems engineer cannot do UI, that the artist would not be an engineer, that the country boy cannot do real science…