The Authenticity of Self

I’m going through my first two weeks in a brand new school. This means that there has been a lot of meet-and-greet, lots of activation of the smile muscles, lots of enthusiasm, and a conscious suppression of fart jokes, sarcastic comments, and any perceivable “negativity”.

Sometimes I wonder if that means we’re all “faking it”, pretending to be more perfect creatures than we actually are, striving to be thought of in the most favorable terms. Of course, if that’s what is happening, it’s very understandable. I like fart jokes (farts are funny!), but obviously it would be inappropriate to share that with everybody I meet, the first time I meet them. So I self-censor. Moreover, if there’s pretense, then there’s a natural end to it. As Hawthorne so memorably wrote, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” Most of us are not master Januses, so however consciously we try, we can’t be forever “cool”. So, not least for being short-lived, any initial duplicity is forgivable.

Is it preferable? While this may be the most arrogant expression of self we’ve dreamed of, we want to be liked “for who we are”. Among other things, I want to tell friends fart jokes and see if they have any new materials to add to my repertoire. So why not tell my classmates, people with whom I want to be friends, the jokes to being with? Is it cowardice, or is it civility? Is it simply patience? Does the process of matching, whether that be in the labor market with employers and employees, in the dating scene with single, interested parties, or in a lecture hall with 75 new faces, simply take time?

This is not even touching on the question of whether there is even such a thing as authenticity of self. Do we only have one “self”? Isn’t it arguable that we’re instead fractured images bouncing off faceted mirrors? I am only one person, but I am not to my boss as I am to my oldest friends. He wouldn’t wish me to be, and it is for the best. With all that said, I can’t wait to have library friends already. The jokes are piling up!

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2 Responses to The Authenticity of Self

  1. I LOVE your posts, you are a woman in control of your words. This post in particular made me smile and reflect on our experience thus far. I too wish their were a fast-forward button, in the friendship process. Much like I hate starting a new job: being useless because you don’t understand the normal operations, asking a lot of questions, and overall just being uncomfortable. I find the tedium of navigating the social dynamics tiring. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed every minute of it! I do love meeting new people and learning from them, but every now and then, I wish I could sink into the comfort of an old friend. In other words, let the fart jokes commence! 😀

  2. Esa says:

    I think we are constantly editing our ‘ selves ‘. I’ve worked at the same place for 30 years and the self I use here is not the one I am at home. But I do think our ‘ better selves ‘ tend to be overshadowed by the public one.

    And fart jokes are cool. Fire Away!!

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