Alter Ego Identity Crisis

This may make me seem a little crazy, but I have to tell you that I have several alter egos. For the longest time, I didn’t feel as though I could be my complete self and because of this…I was different people (displaying different elements of myself) depending on the situation and environment. This was exhausting to the very core of me. If you pretend to be someone else for too long you risk forgetting who you are.

When I was younger, going out with girlfriends to bars, I sometimes used fake names. When a guy introduced himself, offered to buy me a drink and conversation ensued, I quickly tried to determine if his interests in getting to know me were genuine by asking two questions mid-way into the conversation. The first question: Do you remember what my name is? I’d have him close his eyes for the second question and ask him what color my eyes were. I figured if he was genuinely interested in getting to know me, he would have remembered my name and also have at least more than glanced at my eyes. Sure, he might have had a few drinks, but if he had too many that he couldn’t remember these small but signifcant details about me, did I really want to get to know him? Therefore, if he couldn’t correctly answer both questions, I gave him one of my fake names ‘Sarah’ or ‘Jessica’.

These two fake names (ie. alter egos) not only helped me filter out the less than virtuous men, they also served another perhaps more important role. They both were very outgoing, confident, life of the party types. Which ran counter to my own introverted personality. They allowed me to get outside of my comfort zone in ways that didn’t feel as though they came naturally to me. This concept of having an alter ego isn’t unique. It has been the central plotline of several popular television shows and movies; Clark Kent-Superman; Bruce Wayne-Batman; Hannah Montana; and my personal favorite Steve Urkel-Steffan Urquelle from Family Matters.

I realized that while I didn’t give a name to all the alter-egos, I had many. They all contrasted each other in their ability to embody conflicting characteristics, confident versus unsure or outgoing versus quiet. It was a bit disorienting and honestly I felt like a liar. A liar to you and myself. I don’t know why exactly I found it necessary to take on these separate characters. It could have been my embodiment of ‘there’s a right time and a wrong time’ for everything. What a misconstrued interpretation!

When analyzing myself, I had an “aha” moment. This may not come as a surprise to you, but it was somewhat to me. I am all of the things my alter egos were. I had all of the characteristics they did, as conflicting as they might be. Why didn’t I see that the alter egos were flat characters. They only fit into one story, in a collection of stories, that are a novel about my life. I am the dynamic central character in this story. Just as you are in your own novel. We are both writing the stories of our lives and why should we be limited to only certain characteristics, one dimensional. That’s not real and neither were the alter egos. But I am real. A fully dimensional, complete, confusingly complex person. So are you.

You determine who you are. Be that person 100% of the time and you’ll find authentic peace within yourself. It seems fitting to end this with a quote from a childhood author widely known for clever rhymes and profound truths, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. ~ Dr. Seuss.

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