“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be.”
— Kurt Vonnegut
(Or, to put it another way, we are who we, and our identity/identities, says we are. Our views about ourself shapes us fully. And so actively cultivating an identity that matches our authentic self is therefore very much of prime importance to living a great life…)
I remember a conversation I have with a friend regarding different viewpoints in terms of how we focus on our individual selves between eastern or western thinking. There was one philosopher, he said that said something along the lines of ‘In our society, we open and close aspects of our self’ which is a very fascinating and interesting thought process.
I find it much more apt that yes, we do pretend to be something in every day life — especially the more we step out of our comfort zones. The authentic self is hard to define to begin with, and it takes a good deal of introspection to even understand what that even is — people might spend their whole lives searching for it.
Under the ‘open and close’ mentality I mentioned earlier, it becomes a bit different — it is what lets me show facets of my authentic self or even parts of my social identity — friend, Indonesian, diaspora, thinker, and so on — and I don’t think this approach is invalid either. If anything, it is more comfortable to think about because it shifts the perspective of ‘who am I really’ and takes a great deal of that burden out. Because I am always authentic, it is what I need to be or present in that moment that matters.
It is true that in our society we are not taught how to find our authentic voice in among all the identities we’ve inadvertently crafted and grafted to our core and through which we generally interact with the world (and that we think is actually us). And so when we present our different faces to different groups, how often we are able to show authentic bits of ourselves vs just presenting another version of our identity remains a question. To develop the capacity to be open and authentic (which is not the same as being honest) is the work. And when you can hear and come from your authentic self, being closed occurs as an odd notion. :)