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Worlds Colliding

There’s work you and home you, café you and hospital you, friends you and strangers you. In this week’s writing challenge, tell us about a time when two or more of your “yous” ran into each other.

Image by Tobias Mandt (CC BY 2.0)

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Do you ever notice how many different versions of you exist? We slip in and out of our different personas without even noticing.

We’re the impatient smartphone fumbler waiting for our coffee, the generous stranger offering our seat on the bus, and the annoying partner/parent/roommate who forgot that one errand we were supposed to run — sometimes in the span of ten minutes. Each of these comes with its own set of gestures, its own voice, its own language.

Sometimes, our personas depend on location. Other times it’s what we’re wearing, who we’re talking to, or what we’re trying to accomplish that conditions our behavior. This variety makes our lives more complicated and more prone to mishaps — but also so much more interesting.

For this week’s challenge, think about a time when two (or more!) of your personas collided. How did you react? Did one take over, or did you come up with a strange hybrid of your different selves? Was it a source of anxiety and embarrassment, or a great moment of comedy?

If you’d like something more specific to sink your teeth into, tell us about…

  • That time when you ran into a coworker in an unexpected place.
  • An encounter you had in real life with someone you’d previously only known online or by voice.
  • An event with relatives of different generations, and how you had to tailor your behavior accordingly.
  • A trip abroad where you had to switch back and forth between manners, languages, or attitudes.

Feel free to tweak any of these ideas to suit your needs!

I can’t wait to read your stories — whichever “you” you choose to present us with.

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Comments

    1. I’m not sure if I’m doing this correctly (writing the challenge on my blog and copying the link to this blog). If I’m not, I sincerely apologize. I’m a newbie to blogging…

      1. That’s absolutely fine! We encourage everyone to create a pingback to the challenge in your own post (a link to the instructions are at the top of this page), but leaving a link here in the comments works, too.

  1. These things are all so true! Although my blog is primarily comedic, there are times when I will write more serious posts such as to commemorate events like d-day.

  2. I can think of one time. I saw an ex in the local town when I was with my current boyfriend . He was with who I assumed was his girlfriend and their baby (she looked like both of them, probably more toddler than baby). I immediately went into shocked mode, as well as (ashamed to admit it now) “look-how-happy-I-am-now mode. My boyfriend immediately noticed something was up and I pointed out the ex. He then saw me and I’m pretty sure he was as horrified as I was, since we had not ended well.
    I know I have different personalities around my family compared to my friends, then I’m a different person again when I’m with my boyfriend. There’s lots of different me’s.
    Thank you for this, it’s made me think :)

    1. Hi bradhadair37 — in order to keep the comments section under control, we ask that bloggers write and post on their own sites, and then share it here with a link and/or pingback. Thanks!

  3. Which of those you are the real you? I remember how I and my friends discussed about that in one forum. Some argued that these are just social masks that we wear in different situations, others claimed that to divide yourself like this means only hypocrisy (as if acting on the stage). I’d like to believe that there are no other selves, only me. It’s just I don’t know all of myself yet.

  4. I am in crash course daily. On weekends I sometimes play the preacher in church giving the congregation my version of today’s lesson. During the week I’m the guy running a grocery store who often finds himself use profanity or thinking lewd thoughts of the scantily clad shopper. One the weekend I’m peace with myself while during my work I struggle to be the guy on the weekend, I prefer the weekend guy and I think I could be him all of the time if the weekday guy would get out of the way.

  5. I feel like two different persons when Im with my long distance boyfreind, and with freinds and family. Im not used to being a girlfreind and a friend/sister, at the same time. Ive had to work hard to make those to personas come together

  6. What a great challenge. I was JUST thinking about this very topic this past week. Seems we all wear so many different hats these days. With each hat, comes a different persona. I’ve often wondered if I was the only one who felt this collision of personalities. Looking forward to this writing challenge!!

  7. Instead of thinking of them as different identities, I prefer to think of them as different roles. We all have different roles to play with different people in different situations. Sometimes I need to be the authoritative figure, and sometimes I’m the consoling friend; sometimes I’m the responsible coworker, and sometimes I’m the goofy cousin.

    We all have different facets of our lives that demand different things from us, and we all need to step into those roles and fill them in our own way. I consider myself to have one identity: me. That person needs to behave differently in different situations, but it’s always just another version of me.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Having been married 50 years, G=Grandmother x 2, Grandmother x 8, two sons, and a very large family – including 5 (yes, 5!) daughter-in-laws!! Haven’t done as well as I would – given the chance over again, but it was all “Me”.

  8. I’m usually just the quiet polite person when I’m out somewhere or in a working environment. But if put in a position of leadership over something I know well, I completely change into an out going confident, supportive person and get a lot more fulfilment out of the day. I definitely agree there are many versions on oneself.

  9. I guess that is based on human nature overall, which tells that our mind has everything to do with our behaviours. Depending on what message the mind sends to the brain the body act upon it and hence the behaviour or outcome.

  10. I wrote about the mommy version of me which took over the me version of me. (If THAT makes any sense!) And how I finally figured out that they do not need to be exclusive of each other :)

  11. I remember a very challenging time in my life when I needed two or three of my different personas. There was a time when I sold stocks and in so doing, I needed to be the confident business person who knew all about a company/companies whose stock I was selling. In turn, I needed to be a very close adviser who guided my clients to their goals of retiring, saving for college, or any number of financial ends that were important to each. It was like stepping outside of oneself to take on the challenge. As I look .back, it reminds me of Clark Kent who would discretely close himself into a phone booth only to emerge as SUPERMAN. After the transformation, he was always able to perform the life changing “rescues” needed for the moment.

  12. I think it depends on mood and the emotions felt at the time. It also depends on your relationship with the people you’re with. A combination of these factors decide what kind of persona you’re going to exert to the world.

  13. This explains the phenomenon of having different states of consciousness. It is a very hard thing to fully explain especially since it is not fully understood. Something triggers this familiar neural pathway and brings us back to a previous pattern of behavior associated with a certain person, place, sound, idea, activity, etc. This is one of my favorite aspects of neuroscience and psychology! So nice to hear it described from another viewpoint.

  14. I just wrote an essay on this for my degree; it’s a really interesting subject and there’s people arguing all sorts of things – that there is only one ‘true’ self for each person, that we are constructed by consumerism, and even that it’s all completely performative.
    Personally, i think there are several ‘versions’ of myself but i always try to put the best one out there in the world, so i hope there’s some consistency. It’s always interesting though when friends and family come together in one place – for example, i never swear with my parents around; does this mean i become a temporary mish mash of several of my ‘selves’ – who knows?! :)

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