What we believe-in, what we are, what we do, what we love, what we feel when we are alone form our character. However, for various reason, we may not showcase our likes/dislikes before others. Our desire to fit-in, to gel well, to be accepted by others pushes us to feign interest in stuff we don’t like or hate what we like – often projecting a different persona by wearing a mask over our true character and show others a different ‘us’ altogether. But, the less the gap between our personality and character, the less we have to lie & deceive and the more at peace and less in conflict with ourselves. The more the gap, the more the chances for a split personality disorder (pun intended). But, the fact remains that we all have a character and personality and sometimes, they are at odd with each other.
When confidence in ourself comes from within, from the know that we are believing-in the right stuff (after judging dispassionately), that we think through before acting, that we are doing the best and the right by our standards, we are at peace. But, if this confidence takes a back seat when confronted with how our family, friends, the society (we deal with) thinks about us, and how they might react to our opinions, our true nature dies and it becomes more of ‘will they like this?’ instead of ‘do I like this’? When others opinions matter more than ours, and surviving requires us to placate others, our character is tossed out of the window and personality is worshiped. Also, as culture worships the bottom line, the result, the end than the means, the way we take to achieve them, when dealing with a hyper busy world which has no time to know the real person but judges and takes us (literally) at our face value, personality takes precedence over character. What others think about me matters more than what I think of myself. And, since people form/change opinions on what they see, it becomes a never ending task to manager our image in their eyes, to meet others’ expectations.
As if peer pressure was not enough we now have social media also to contend with. Even though we know people update Facebook with only their best, photo-shopped pictures, make it a point to share mostly only the best moments in life, we still use it as a yardstick to compare our life with. We are overcome by a desire not just to match our personalities to theirs but wonder if its’ their character they are projecting, that if they are by default, naturally jovial, trouble free, at peace with themselves and the world and are always ‘happening people’. We can’t even blame ourselves for it, ’cause after a daily deluge of the same kind of pictures, updates again and again, we start to believe – against our best judgments – their personality is actually their character.
So, why do I consider this discussion is important? Why talk about the differences between personality and character when selfies rule the day? When we take pictures of ourselves and post it to social networks and keep checking every hour how many people ‘liked’ our pictures? and derive joy from the result? This is precisely why this dialog is important. Because we no longer control our happiness but allow others to do it for us. Because we no longer do what we think is right, but what everyone thinks is right. Because we are so in sync with the crowd that we no more recognize who we are. Because we don’t want to alone with ourselves, since we don’t know them.
Sure, we all have to maintain some or the other image to survive in this world. But, the world has too many standards to be met, to be considered ‘cool’ and ‘successful’ and they vary from field to field; it is not possible to keep up with all those standards. So, what should we do? We need to consciously chose to shift our locus of attention from others to ourselves. shift focus from expecting people to ‘like’ us to ‘being’ ourselves. By ‘playing to the gallery’ to a minimum, using it just to get by and by deciding what matters to us against what everyone considers is acceptable. More than anything else, we need to strongly believe, that life’s not a running race and that we’ll not get any award if we die rich or be recognized for being the richest man in the grave. Only when we replace this craving for recognition (and to win in the imaginary race of life) with acceptance of who we are, can we be at peace.