A person

Some of you know the etymology of the word person. The story I am familiar with is that of its original Latin meaning of describing the mask, worn by actors in ancient theaters. The meaning subsequently moved from describing just the mask, to describing the character being played (in Romanian “personaj”) and later to describing an individual human being.

The purpose of this short exposition is to introduce you to the notion that, a person, the individual with a distinct identity, is not a single entity, but rather the sum of a large number of roles the individual interprets according to the emotional, relational, environmental or other context he might find himself in.

Oftentimes you would hear people complaining about others not being “authentic” and when describing someone that way, I feel that the one to call it out is sometimes at least a little hypocritical. In the end we are all playing roles, generally in order to leave a positive impression of ourselves. On the stage that is life, we are each better suited to playing certain roles and others less so. This leads us to having a preference for roles in which we excel at. You might think this is a positive thing, but it is not always like that.

Consider that you might find yourself being very able at a role that is disadvantageous to you. You would most often see this issue manifest itself in people holding on to a victim mentality, in flamboyant instigators who are craving for attention or in regular shyness shown by people who due to different anxieties find some forms of interaction uncomfortable.

The good thing is that roles, like masks, are in many ways apart from you as an individual, and they can be swapped constantly. This is not to say that you can become instantly likeable. That will take both practice and patience and an ability to understand what it is that you need to change in your interpretation of the role. It does however mean that whatever role you are in right now you have the option of improving upon it and expanding it or you can swap it for something different.

Remember that you are not wearing your role (only) for the purpose of deceiving. Playing a role is the only way you can interact with life and it is the way in which you get to be the loving dad, the considerate husband, the loyal friend, the funny companion and a host of others. Sometimes maybe even several of them at the same time.