Personality and Individuality (by Swifty Flame-Anderson)
"To define yourself or another individual always limits and diminishes. Even if the definition is a supposedly 'positive' one, it will always fall massively short of the magnificent wonder that is undefined reality." Happy Cow
In this article I would like to consider the difference between personality and individuality.
If we look at the words 'person' and 'personality', we find that both are derived from the Latin word 'persona', which meant 'an actor's mask'. Personality is not real. It is a mask that you wear to fit in with a given situation. One mask for visiting the bank manager. One mask for cheering at the football match. One mask for visiting your parents. One mask for being a parent. One mask for relaxing with friends. One mask for attending court. One mask for a chit chat with the checkout girl. One mask for trying to win the affections of a potential lover.
On and on it goes. For every different situation, a different mask. But one thing in common. In every situation there is pretence. In every situation we are acting out a 'personality'. We are not being real. Why do we do this?
We do it because we are conditioned to think that we must please other people. We are conditioned to think that we are responsible for others' feelings and must behave in a certain way to make sure that we do not in some way 'offend' those other people. Because of this, everyone is pussy-footing around pretending to be someone who they are not. Everyone is wearing a mask. Nobody is being real. We are all essentially lying to one another all the time. The excuse we use is that doing so saves others' feelings. But do any of us really want this massively false situation? Does it really make anyone happy?
I would suggest that it does precisely the opposite. I would suggest that it makes everyone who takes part unhappy. Because real happiness only emerges when you stop all the pretence, stop wearing masks and allow your true individuality to shine through. Only then can you truly be yourself. Only then can you truly be happy.
If you are courageous enough to throw away the masks then it is going to cause friction. You will start 'offending' some people. Those people who are still playing the pussy-footing around game. Those people who will not take responsibility for themselves and their own feelings. They will create for themselves a feeling of offence and then pin it on you. They want to maintain the cold, dead status quo in which everyone keeps on the masks and keeps up the pretences. Sure, it is all an elaborate charade, but they are used to it. It requires little effort. It requires very little presence. The masks are ready made. The parts have been played a thousand times before.
Often we say that a person has a 'very strong personality'. I would suggest that those individuals who are often described as having 'a strong personality' actually have no personality at all. They have discarded all pretences. They have stopped wearing masks.
They are no longer a person. Now they are a free individual. They are free to respond spontaneously to each and every situation as they see fit. You will not be able to predict an individual as you can predict a person. With a person you know they will behave this way in this situation, that way in that situation. With an individual, you have no idea, because an individual knows that no two situations are ever the same and an individual is never bound by social etiquette or a conditioned need to please others.
"Things never happen the same way twice." Aslan (C.S. Lewis - Prince Caspian)
That individual will stand out sharply from the crowd as unique, indefinable. And that will often be called 'a strong personality'. But in actual fact, such strong individuality requires the shedding of personality. You cannot pin such an individual down and say 'he is this type of person' or 'that type of person' because (s)he is not a type of person at all. (S)he is totally free from personality and therefore totally free to choose how to respond to every moment of every day, in every situation, in every encounter.
"One of the main differences between children and adults is that children pretend and happily admit it, whereas adults pretend and pretend that they are not pretending." Swifty Flame-Anderson
Those who choose to stay in the mask game will often try to attach to such an individual judgements like 'mad', 'arrogant' or 'selfish'. That individual has broken free from the crowd and has the courage to look after their own happiness first. That individual knows that the wearing of masks aimed at people pleasing always ends up with nobody being happy. That individual has the courage to stand up and say, 'These are my current life choices and I am totally responsible for them.'
The masqueraders fear the responsibility that comes with freedom and are envious of the effortless joy that it also brings. The masqueraders will always try to bring individuals back down into the masquerade, back down into the sham of personality. There they can be labelled. There they can be predicted. There they can be judged. There they can be controlled.
Are you going to put on a mask today?
"Personality remains a totally free choice every moment of every day. Any fixed ideas you have about yourself are your own unnecessary imposition." Happy Cow
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