Who do you see when you look in the mirror? No, I’m not trying to be a smart ass; and it’s not a trick question. I’m being serious. Because it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your own true self you’re staring at. In my experience, at one time or another, we’ve all created a persona we’ve sent out there into the world.
Sometimes it’s who, or what, others — like our parents or spouses or teachers — want us to be. How many young men and women have become doctors or lawyers or firefighters or teachers or have gotten married or had children in an effort to please their folks — only to end up miserable because they wanted to do something else with their lives?
Sometimes it’s us. We wish we were like a character we enjoyed in a book or a film. Or more like a friend or colleague. Someone we think is more interesting or more intelligent or more successful or more admired or more charming or more memorable. Someone who seems to have a more exciting, more fulfilling life. Someone who’s braver than we are. More daring. More adventurous. Naughtier. Funnier. More
Sometimes we create someone we hope will attract a man (or woman) we’re after, or get us the job we’re desperate for. Or the friends we want. Or the recognition we crave.
Sometimes we manufacture a persona we believe suits an image we have in our own minds. How we think a writer should look and behave. Or an architect. Or a realtor. Or a mom. Or a musician. Or an intellectual. Or a techie. Or a globe-trotter. Or a hooker. Or an Italian. Or a martian, for that matter.
Sometimes we don’t like ourselves very much. And instead of trying to figure it out, instead of facing our demons and doing the work, we make up an alter ego we like better. Not necessarily because we’re lazy, simply in an effort to avoid pain.
Sometimes it’s nothing more than an experiment. To check it out. To see what it’s like to be that person, or in that job, or to live that life. To try it on, so to speak. To be a voyeur in the life we think we want.
And sometimes it’s just to see what kind of reaction we get.
Does this make you a fake or a fraud? I don’t think so, actually. At least not necessarily.
To begin with I don’t think we’re always aware of what we’re doing. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision but other times it’s not. And it’s not always about personas, either.
Often it’s about soul-searching. Really digging deep. Listening to our heart. Being brave. Taking a chance — on ourselves.
It takes time for most people to connect with their soul. And your soul is the only place your one true self resides. At least that’s what I believe. For some people — me included — it happens fairly early on. For others it takes a long time. And for still others it never happens. Tragic, but true.
In my case I was still in my teens when I knew I didn’t want to have children. I love them and they love me back. I just didn’t want any of my own. But I am a great ‘aunt’. It was such a strong conviction I had, I absolutely believe it was what the Universe wanted for me. So is being a writer. Early on, though, my ambitions were greater. I aspired to be a creative director as well. To be in charge. To set the bar for others to follow. To set the standard. To be the teacher and the mentor.
I got to do it. I’m told I was good at it. I certainly tried and worked very hard at it. The agencies I worked for did well, I did well and a lot of the industry’s talent, a lot of today’s creative directors (at least in Toronto) got their start in the creative departments I ran.
But what I didn’t know all those years ago — and I do know now — is what makes me the happiest, the most content, the most satisfied, the most fulfilled, the most at peace is writing. Pure and simple. Writing. Nothing more, nothing less. In my soul, I’m writer. It’s my purpose. I just know it. I feel it in my bones. And I don’t question it.
What I’m writing doesn’t matter. It can be my book or a blog. A website for a client. A white paper. An article. A script. All I know is, whatever it is, when it’s going well I’m lost in the words. I don’t know or care what the time is. It doesn’t matter when I last ate, or slept. It’s of no consequence that that the sun is shining and I’m indoors on a beautiful day. I’m oblivious to any conversations going on around me. I’m not aware of my surroundings, I could be anywhere. It’s almost as if I’m in a trance. For me, it’s almost like a meditation.
My soul purpose — my soul’s purpose — is to tell stories, to share my thoughts and experiences. And also to give a voice to those without one. That’s who I am. It’s my truth. What’s yours?