Public Self/ Private Self

Public Self/ Private Self

The young woman in the photo does not seem to be an example of someone identified with her persona. The drawing she made shows a female figure about her age that seems to be at the edge of metamorphosis, frightened, but also curious and adventurous. The drawing seems to reveal what is happening with her soul, while her socialized face seems a bit shy and she hides half of it behind the sketch book.

Zap Oracle Card #315 - © Jonathan Zap

“There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” — T.S. Eliot

You are not your persona or social self. We all put on social masks and in some circumstances they are quite necessary. But they are not who you are. If some old masks no longer serve, let them melt away.

Sometimes we put on masks to meet the outer world — we act differently at work or school than with intimate friends, adopt specialized demeanors when interacting with police or on a job interview. But some people — some police, for example, or people forever trying to be cool — come to identify with the persona. They believe they are the persona, the uniform or cool clothes wear them, and authenticity and their essence become ever more submerged. I once saw a magazine ad that showed a generic square-jawed male model looking very self-satisfied. The caption of the ad was something like this: “Underneath his Yves St. Laurent shirt, his Pierre Cardin jacket, his Porsche designer sun glasses, John Lance wears Brut.” In other words, under his exoskeleton of brand names is just one more brand name. An ad for Seiko watches still currently in print says (approximately), “It’s not your clothes that say the most about who you are, not your shoes, not the car you drive, not the music you listen to. It’s your watch.” Of course it is your self that says the most about who you are, not the brand name consumer goods, but the Babylon Matrix wants you focused on surfaces, appearances and objects. It wants you to believe that buying stuff is the key to forming an identity. Cars are especially marketed as ways to buy an identity.

I was once walking down the street at lunchtime on a weekday and saw one carefully groomed yuppie after another passing me. There was not a hair out of place, and they seemed dressed up to look just like ads they had seen in glossy magazines. In my mind’s eye I saw that their energy had formed a kind of exoskeleton, their identification with persona, clothing, accessories and bodily appearance had formed them into a kind of full body helmet, polished, blow dried, glazed with subtle cosmetics, while somewhere the self, a shriveled, malnourished, somnambulant embryo lay dormant.

Molt the persona that has become attached to you through identification and feel yourself grow larger. Don’t wait, like Darth Vader, for the exoskeleton to fall away on your deathbed.

It is not your brand names, not your clothes, not your car, not your hair, not your weight; it is you that says the most about who you are.

About Jonathan Zap

Jonathan Zap is a contributing editor for Reality Sandwich, and writer/explorer of themes emerging from the collective unconscious as we hurtle toward an evolutionary event horizon. He's an author, philosopher, journalist, and teacher who has written extensively on psychology and contemporary mythology. He graduated from Ursinus College with honors in Philosophy and English and received his Masters degree in English from NYU. Jonathan has worked as a staff gemologist and instructor for the Gemological Institute of America. He has taught English in high school and college and worked with troubled youth as the dean of a South Bronx High School. As a wilderness guide, Jonathan has led inner city kids and other young people on expeditions to remote desert canyons and to the summit of Mount Rainer.