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In college, we spent hundreds of hours, gallons of booze and who knows what else, trying consciously or subconsciously to discover who we truly were. It’s a time in a young person’s life where the personality, while still subject to influence by media, mentors and peers, really begins to solidify. I for one, tried my best to keep it fluid by drinking plenty of “fluids,” but alas it didn’t really work.
Now that I am an adult, I find that my personality isn’t really solid, per say, but more compartmentalized. I become a different person depending on my circumstances and surroundings. I don’t really think of any of them as “the real me” since they’re all part of me, but I’m sure a couple of these personalities are more dominant than others.
I walk into the office and assume my work persona. Work me is introverted, anti-social, impatient and selfish. If you talk to me, you have a death wish. Definitely not my best self, but that’s what happens when you’re in a job you hate with a spineless boss and coworkers who suffer from “shit-for-brains syndrome.” I do the work necessary to keep me in good graces – or at least as good as the graces get around here – and off the radar of senior management. The less I am noticed, the less bullshit I deal with. Punch in, punch out. I am Jack’s wasted life.
When I get home, rather than do the bare minimum, I actually do more than what my wife asks me to do. Why? Because it’s my home, I don’t want to live in filth, and the way I care for my home is a direct reflection of me. I make sure the animals are fed, the dishes are done, the trash is out, and anything else to make our apartment a welcoming place to come home. I do my share of cooking too. At home I am usually laid-back, patient, agreeable, and generally pleasant to be around. I am also usually asleep by 10:30.
When I walk into a party, bar or any other social setting, I become Mr. Social, willing to talk to just about anyone, mix up a drink for anyone, and play whatever game is next. Never the loud or sloppy drunk, I keep it under control and never, ever be the guy to start a fight. I am rarely the center of attention, but people are usually happy to see me. I was never the guy who had a dozen girls hanging on him and I’m ok with that. The last time I got wild, I’m pretty sure I wound up looking and feeling like I’d gotten the shit beaten out of me by Jet Li so I don’t get wild anymore.
A model of professionalism, enthusiasm, and confidence, interview me is ready to take this firm by storm. In my business grey suit (from Jos. A Bank, circa 2006) and Vineyard Vines tie, I pretty much reek of skill and knowledge. In my hands is a leather portfolio that shouts “This guy knows his shit,” and my resume, printed on linen stock is two pages of why I am the best thing to hit this firm in 50 years. I walk into the room like I piss excellence. A strong handshake, a charming smile, a “Yes ma’am” or “No, sir” and I’m golden. There’s no way these guys won’t be calling me in two days.
The Real Me
At the beginning of this column, I stated that I didn’t really consider any of the above personas “the real me.” That much is still true. I have however, via the therapeutic process of writing, discover one thing about Postgrad Me: Postgrad Me is pretty damn boring. Work me may as well not even exist some days, he gets so little actual work accomplished; home me may as well put an apron on and become a house-husband; party me left his testicles in college, because it hurts too much to really rage anymore; and interview me… well, interview me is a delusional joke who hasn’t really learned anything in this job.
Those are the facts. Postgrad me is plain white bread, but at least he’s reliable. He works (however grudgingly), he doesn’t get arrested for urinating in the fountain in the city square while shit-faced, and he’s attempting to get a better job where actually can learn something. I may not be the most interesting man in the world, but I could definitely be worse.