What Makes a Person

Approaching the intentional transformation of self for me includes an outline of what makes Self. Foundationally I agree with Joseph Campbell on the concepts of masks.

We all wear masks throughout our lives. These masks come with familiar phrases like “professional behavior will help with networking for a job” or “don’t talk like that around your grandmother.” Sometimes the masks are changed out with barely a thought. One outfit is for a night on the town and another is for on the job. The idea that these different ways of presenting ourselves are just masks that we wear and switch out is not a new one, though also not always done consciously.

Underneath these masks exists a fundamental me with traits that thread through all the masks. For me one of those traits is I won’t lie just to get ahead. I failed a class in college because I wouldn’t just go along with what the teacher was saying. My truth was more important than a grade, or a relationship, or a free ride, or a job or anything. I value sticking to my guns on topics I believe in and I’m not going to say “yes, we should all be vegans” just to get an A.

My goal is to sift through my traits, figure which ones are firmly me and which are simply taken on for convenience and then facet them out into masks appropriate for each situation in my life.

To make this easier I’ve divided traits into the following categories:

  • Actions
  • Appearances
  • Dreams
  • Environments
  • Feelings
  • Memories
  • Perceptions
  • Physical States
  • Thoughts
  • Words
  • Works

Each one is plural because each one is changeable as well as potentially multiplicital (spell check says I made that word up).

Here’s the list again with examples:

  • Actions: Exercise, hug a friend, or share lunch with a homeless person
  • Appearances: Wear spikes on a leather jacket or smile at people
  • Dreams: Wipe polio off the face of the planet or eat pumpkin pie every day for a week
  • Environments: Live in a small town or read in a coffee shop
  • Feelings: Sadness or love
  • Memories: Picking mint for Mama’s tea or almost drowning
  • Perceptions: Eugene is the big city or Eugene is a town with delusions
  • Physical States: Healthy, head cold, or heart murmur
  • Thoughts: E = MC^2 or I wonder if she’s out of my league
  • Words: “Thanks for the lift!” or “I can’t believe he did that!”
  • Works: Founding a non-profit, building a skyscraper, starting a successful business, creating art, or etc

So given my belief that these things make a person I simply (ha!) have to quantify myself in each of these areas as I have been, as I am and as I want to be.  Then I just (ha ha!) facet that into appropriate masks for the situations most likely to occur in my life. In the end I will have a solid sense of core self with easy to reference facets for general purpose use.

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