He explains that a person is a "performer," on a stage, playing a part for observers. Goffman writes that we all present a front which may or may not meet cultural expectations leading up to an ideal. These fronts can be dramatized (student wants to look attentive in class so badly that he is concentrating on looking interested and isn't able to pay attention at all), expressed rather than acted (people struggling economically bring out good food and wine for visitors but live frugally in private), and even negatively idealized (American college girls who play down intelligence around datable men).
What does this mean? Goffman proposes that our personas are degrees of performances, often changing for different groups of observers and our true selves are not what we present to the world. Also, the fronts we perform are not created but instead selected because of various stimili or even audience expectation and reaction.
So who are we really?
I actually do not mind getting older. I find that as I celebrate the beginning of another year, I'm a little bit closer to knowing who I am. Our secret selves are a mixture of black, white and gray. Perfection is fleeting and to seek or expect it of ourselves or others, can often cause heartache.
This is what I know to be true about my inner self (good and bad) as I prepare to say goodbye to 2011:
I feel emotional pain deeply but choose not to show it.
I love fiercly.
I react quickly and passionately.
I laugh loudly and often.
I foster insecurities.
I crave knowledge.
I am committed to seeking happiness.
I am a good listener.
I radically protect my inner self.
I seek shelter in close relationships.
I have a hard time asking for help.
I am a perfectionist.
I work hard and play harder.
I rarely cry.
I hate hurting people.
I forgive easily.
I'm thankful to those who love me for me. It isn't easy to understand a person, to dwell with them in happiness and pain and deal with flaws but life would be cold and dull without shared experiences. My hope is that those who share life with me (that's you too, reader) feel joy and peace.
What did you learn about your true self in 2011? Who do you hope to be in 2012?