I am a geek. This isn’t a fact that has ever been in question.
However, I work in a job and live in a house where being a geek, in fact being anything other than “normal” and “ordinary” isn’t a good thing. So every morning, I put on my non-geek persona, and walk into an office.
And every day, I wonder why a job that isn’t particularly challenging leaves me so exhausted.
Recently, I had a realisation. It isn’t the job that makes me tired, it’s the constant stress of always hiding parts of myself. Which led me to thinking about how the personas that we show the world affect us, and what those personas actually are.
Persona 1: Work.
The environment where I wear suits and hide my tattoos and take out my earrings and read comics in my car during lunch instead of in the lunchroom, because being a geek isn’t being “normal.” A place where I’m expected to always be in a good mood, helpful and friendly to coworkers and clients, and constantly upbeat. I don’t have the luxury of having a bad day, or if I do, I have to hide it, and force myself to appear happy.
For the eight and a half hours a day I’m at work, I don’t get to be me.
Persona 2: Home
Everyone’s home is different, I know that. So all I can ramble about is mine. And in my home, it doesn’t matter what happened during the day, good or bad, it’s always “fine.” So the bad days get locked away and ignored, and not having the freedom to deal with things adds to the exhaustion. Acting like everything is always fine isn’t easy. And since my parents don’t approve of my geekiness, I don’t even have that to fall back on.
And so for the seven or so hours I’m at home, but not asleep, I still don’t get to be me.
Persona 3: Friends
I’m the closest to the real me when I’m with friends. But even then, I put on a persona. I’m the stable one, the one without major stresses, the one that everyone else can come to with questions, problems, when they need advice, or when they just want an ear or a shoulder. And I’m perfectly okay with that. But I also don’t like to burden people with my worries, so even when I want to fall apart, I try to make things appear less bad than they are. I’m not complaining, honestly. It’s simply an observation about what persona I choose to show to my friends.
And while I don’t see my friends nearly as often as I’d like, I’m still not entirely me there either.
Persona 4: Conventions
So the closest I get to being me in public is when I’m at conventions. I still put on a bit of a persona, but as the night gets later, and as I rediscover my comfort level with people, the persona starts slipping, and more and more bits of the real me start seeping through. The crowds still tend to be somewhat overwhelming, which limits exactly how relaxed I can feel, but it’s close. And once the crowds start dissipating, I’m as close to “me” as I ever am.
So there you have it. The different, though somewhat incomplete, personas that make up this Geek Girl. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point where the me the public sees is the complete me, but until then, this is what you get.
And a last second realisation, while I’ve been writing this article? The me you get through my writing… that’s surprisingly close to the real thing.