Friday, February 12, 2010

Persona Versus Personality

There are two things at this moment that I am not showing to you. Two things that you’d never know by reading the posts below. Two things that you’d only know if you were sitting beside me right now and asking me how I really felt or seeing my face pinched with discomfort, and doubt.

The other day, my Baton Rouge NAWW sisters and I (National Association of Women Writers) talked a lot about personas—poet’s persona, artist’s persona, actors/writers/singer’s persona. But you don’t have to be in the arts to have a persona. Get up, have coffee, get dressed, and go to work—there is your Office Persona, or Stylist Persona, Cop Persona, Dog Groomer Persona—there are parts of yourself you must keep hidden while at your job. If my job is to greet people at the door with a smile, it doesn’t matter if I feel horrid or sad or mad: my job is to greet with a smile and that’s what I’ll do, but when I go home, I can let the smile slip if I so chose…or maybe smiling "in a fake way" created a Real Smile-lovely!

So, do I have a Writer’s Persona? Well yes and no. What you read/see here is truly who I am, for I don’t want to come across as anything other than who I am. I am not some “author who sits up on high” or whatever.

If you look at my "official author photo" versus the other photos on this page, you can see physically what I mean about "Persona Vs Personality" . . .

WhatI don’t always show are the doubts and the every day pressures and strains, and sometimes the physical pain. Because, as I told a friend: I don’t like showing my weaknesses. I want to stay positive. I want to be a Light, not a negative. I want to inspire. To make people smile or feel happy or even to think, "She did it, so I can to!"

When I first moved to this cove, it both amused and delighted me (I admit it) that people would talk about “that writer up there in the cove on the mountain” – – I felt a mystery, an enigma. But, I never tried to hide who I was, only that my reclusive side, my private side, is much stronger than my social side—this simply won’t do once you publish a book, for you must Get Out There, and you must Talk About Your Book, and Yourself. You must…*gasp* BRAG —and that my beautiful friends is one of the things I am not showing to you: this discomfort in tooting my horn. Before Tender Graces was published, I spent more time tooting other people's horns, spreading the word about other writers or artists, etc. I helped writers more before, too, when I had more time and no obligations/deadlines/expectations or rules from publishers.

Those posts below: “Oh! I feel so popular!” “Oh, go here and see my interview/review/guest blog/etc.” “Oh look what so and so said about my book, and about me!” “Me me me me me Pay Attention to ME!” . . . Mixed up in that is the hope that I won’t disappoint the people who are hosting or interviewing me: “what if no one goes by?” “what if no one makes a comment” “what if everyone ignores it?” Oh Dear.

Because, as well, when I guest blog or am interviewed, it is not just about ME – it is also about the person who asked me to guest, who interviewed me, who reviewed my book—the gratitude I have for them is immense, and I do not take that gratitude lightly. I want people to go by and support them, not just the ME; I don’t want to disappoint them. I want the time they took to be worth their while.

It’s against my Personality to toot my horn; however, it is a requirement of my Persona that I do this. Mixed up in that is the excitement, and even pride (I admit), that I have written not just one book, but more than one—my life’s dream. Persona and Personality cross--but yet again, many times my Persona and Personality are close together, one in the same, I yam who I yam. But, Persona never shows weakness-ever. Persona must always be ON, must be damned near perfect.

The second hidden thing you wouldn’t know unless you were sitting right by me this morning is that for the last week or more, I have been in physical pain that escalated to the point where I near gritted my teeth--it'll pass, but it's taking it's time this time. I, as we say, “wrenched” something in my upper spine and I will admit to you here that it is pretty damned painful—distracting—annoying---OW OW OW! But, I don’t want to show my weakness to you—don’t want to whine—don’t want to be…um, Human?

My Personality is physically in pain and is mentally cringing from tooting my own horn—from asking you to go read/see ME ME ME ME! But my persona requires it. I am a fallible human being who is surprised at how much she wants your approval, how much she wants you to like her, how much she wants you to follow along with her on her journey—oh yes, she does. My Persona sometimes gets on my nerves, but really, so does my Personality. This morning they are both at war for my attention, for your attention. And now, you have seen under my skin, just a little bit, as I sit here this morning, drinking my coffee, ignoring the discomfort, pulling out my Persona while my Personality deals with the yuck stuff.

Do you have a Persona that sometimes defies your Personality?


Diane said...

Hoping your back feels better. Chiropractor???

I thought you were going to say you had no pants on or something crazy like that at first.... :O)

jinksy said...

I'm a nutural hermit - which is probably why I avoid trying to get a book of poems published - except in dreams!
Wish I could help by letting my healing hands say hello to your back -I'll have to try it by thought power, instead! I wish you well...

Marguerite said...

So sorry about your back, cher! I hurt my lower back a few weeks ago and was forced to rest for a week, which is very hard for me to do. My Persona and my Personality are usually on the same wavelength, but I know what you mean about the promoting. It can be challenging, at times. Hang in there and hope you feel better, soon!

Janna Qualman said...

But you're so real and honest, as evidenced by this post, Kat, and that's what it's all about.

I really appreciate this look at persona vs. personality. I've never thought about the difference before, but now I will.

For me, they join together to create one whole me, but yet they can be separated if need be. Hmm... I'll have to chew on this some more.

Warm thoughts and vibes and feely goods for that back of yours! *hugs*

Anita said...

So sorry to hear you aren't feeling all the well. I hope your back gets a lot better soon. As to persona vs. personality, I have often felt like I have many different masks that I slip on and off. Yet, none of them touches the real me, the personality of me. It can be hard sometimes to let the persona rule, when the personality wants it's due, but like you I a have need to be not trouble the waters, so to speak. At the same time, I do my best to make all my decisions so that they are true to who I am. Guess learning to find the natural balance between the two is part of being human.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Our personas perform a lot of necessary tasks for us, as you so eloquently describe. What's nice too, is that the more we become aware, the more control we can exercise over them - drop the persona when it is not performing a healthy purpose.

What an exciting, wonderful thing to be a complex, multi-faceted, flexible, resilient human being!!

I think, too, that when we make ourselves vulnerable and speak our deepest truth, we are not in a persona - but in our truer, more centered self - and that's what you did in this post. Thank you for an edifying and interesting read.

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

Now sweetie, there is the "diva" writer who looks at this as just a business(we know one don't we) and there is a writer who wants people to enjoy their efforts. You are the latter.So, since word of mouth has long been proven the best advertisement,you sometimes HAVE to toot your own horn to let others know what's coming!I plan on tooting your horn as loud as I can! I talked by phone to a fabulous writer last night who told me she ordered Tender Graces, The Help and Alex Stewart all because I said they were 5 star reads! See there! It works! XOXO

Sharla said...

Hoping your back gets better girl! I just recently found out I have arthritis in my lower back...where the spine meets the pelvic joint. I have a long life left to feel old and achey!!!

I suppose I have a persona at work, that's different from home, I never thought about it much but in thinking about it now I can see it.

My writing life is pretty much all the same me....seeing that there is no published work to push me into a social environment. But I will be going to a writers conference in April, makes me wonder how I will be perceived...I'm a major people watcher...interesting to think about others watching me back! LOL

Hopefully they won't stage an intervention and send me to "What Not To Wear"! :)

T. Anne said...

Gosh yes! I'm as quiet as a mouse and happy with my nose buried in my laptop. But shhh it'll be our little secret.
Happy Valentines!

I love, love, love, your pics!!!

Teresa said...

So sorry you're not feeling well, and I'm especially sorry your back is giving you pain. I know how horrible that can be from watching my husband suffer with back pain from time to time. He's like you, though, a trooper.

I want you to know that your gratitude always shows, and that I can only speak for myself, but you always leave me feeling special when you've visited my blog. Thank you for taking time to leave those wonderful comments.

In terms of persona vs. personality, My personality misses the days when you wrote a book and allowed other people to market your product. I'm not good at pushing myself out into the public eye and usually like to be left alone. I'm so afraid of making a mistake and looking silly that sometimes I do nothing.

Now I know I can't be like that in today's market, so I'm flexing my wings and developing my persona now before anyone really knows who I am. I've given myself permission to make mistakes, so I can make myself better at what I do.

Your honesty and vibrancy have helped and inspired me. So go ahead and have a bad day; you've earned the right.

Relax and enjoy your Valentine's Day!

Karen said...

Hope your back gets to feeling better, so sorry. Well, I think mine is flipped around. My personality doesn't always fit the persona....whatever that might be with me. I never fit the mold, either...sigh...

Judith Alef said...

Kate asked: Do you have a Persona that sometimes defies your Personality?
I've spent my entire life trying to figure out if any one 'person' is in charge of this body. My father taught me ‘if you act like you know where you're going, no one will question you’. My work and associated attires defined me moment to moment. The size of my resume qualified as a door stop. It served to describe me to other people. I never thought of it as a persona catalogue but now that you bring it up, I wasn't one person per se but items gathered together from a menu of personas, depending upon time and requirements.

I left Texas after my 14yr marriage fell apart to take a fellowship in Oregon. I went sight unseen to finish grad school and utilize my 'skill sets'. In reality I was dropped off on a distant planet and 'my personality' which had never come into question in the south was put through a dissection with crude tools by people totally alien to me. I came to their planet to continue my work not be picked apart. My personas had always protected my person and now I stood there, a bare naked lady. I'd come from a culture of separation of professional and personal; I had lived to 'get it done'. Now I was faced with 'who are you to tell us anything.' My personality didn't have a Self to deal with that. And now? That’s a different story. Stay tuned.

Deb Shucka said...

I loved seeing the series of pictures of you and this revealing piece. I think persona is a chunk of our personality, but not the whole thing. Maybe dressed up a bit to fit the occasion it was created for, but still essentially a bit of who we are.

I struggle frequently with staying in a persona (like teacher) because I tend to want to let everything show as a way to connect.

I like all of you I've met so far, and can't imagine that will change.

Angie Ledbetter said...

If your personality ever sat on your persona, it'd be squished lifeless because it's already a ghostly puny thing. LOL. No, you dear friend, are one of the most honest, caring people I know...and that comes straight through to your "persona" and into your books/words.

I hate personal horn tooting too, but not for others. :) Durn those nasty author branding, social networking, HEY LOOK AT ME requirements. LOL

Hugs and love ya (and your so-called persona). :D

Angie Ledbetter said...

PS I just retweeted (tooted) this interesting post.

Titus said...

Oh yep, persona at work today (nice and lovely to people at two meetings who I don't actually know very well) and personality on frazzled return home (shout at children who I love very much). Ah well....

Talking of which, get well soon!

Judith Mercado said...

Call her persona or personality, I like them both. Kate, whoever she is, is awesome.

jeannette stgermain said...

I know very well what you mean. My job requires a persona too -which is in my job as a therapist a blank slate that clients/patients may project onto. You have seen my blog, which is anything except a blank slate.
At certain times it's okay to be the person people need you to be.

About tooting your horn: if you believe in what you write (which you probably do:) ), you are the personification of the passion of your books, as soon as you enter the room.
Your talent may be put on a pedestal -it's because the others in the room do not have your talent! See it from their side: for many it's still kind of a fairy tale to meet someone who has written a book!

I promise I won't gush when I ever meet you! (just kidding)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Ouch on the back pain! Ugh! Hope you are all healed up by the time you read this comment!

Your post gives me a lot to think about. Some days I feel like I wear lots of masks and personas so much so that I lose my personality. I ask myself why I do this and why I can't just be me!!!

Anonymous said...

This is very informative. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate the way you write. Full of meaning yet so easy to comprehend.

I've never known the difference between my personas and personality before. I still have to figure that out.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Oh Kat, hope your back heals soon, back pain is one of the worst. Thanks for sharing your feelings re: public persona. I worry about putting myself out there when the time comes.

t i m said...

I hope you’re feeling much better soon ;)

I certainly have a different persona depending on my immediate audience as I can be quite introverted most times, but when around like-minded good humoured people, I’m much more at ease & convivial in such a setting. :)