Worlds Colliding

When I was about 16 or 17 years old, I wrote a letter to my mentor about being confused and working through adolescence. It was about what called at the time “multiple selves.” I distinctly noticed that I was developing different habits in separate areas of my life — home, school, work and church. Growing up in all areas, but often separating each of them. It was bothersome to me. I wanted to feel like the same person in all areas of my life, but noticed this was not happening.

I’m not sure if this is common or “normal” but, since Seinfeld had a “worlds colliding” episode, it makes me think other people might deal with the same sort of life segregation. Your work friends may not meet your family or your high school buddies, but if they do, you can’t help but wonder how the different groups will interact or even worse, will I be the same person in all settings and if I’m not, will either they notice? Will they care?

I struggled with this feeling for several years… honestly maybe even a decade. I still might catch myself trying to segment my feelings and organize and categorize my interactions. I think this may help to feed my controlling nature. Ha! However, the last few years, my whole life has been worlds colliding all the time.

Tim and I host parties with friends, families, clients, everyone invited! What’s the worst thing that has happened when worlds do collide? Literally nothing. Usually good things happen, like my friends become friends, my clients become my friends, my friends love my family, and best of all – I get to just be me across all areas of my life. It is amazing!

I hope this is part of the natural growing up process and that everyone gets to experience what it is like when you get to just be yourself no matter who you are around. It is the best feeling and waaayy more fun!

2 thoughts on “Worlds Colliding

  1. Mandy Fehlbaum July 9, 2019 — 4:59 am

    This is something everyone experiences! Sociologist Erving Goffman calls this “the performance of self in everyday life.” We all have a work-self, a play-self, etc. With those roles come certain norms and expectations. That is, you don’t wear your PJs to work and you probably speak differently around different people (e.g., you don’t tell the cashier your deepest thoughts and feelings). It’s part of symbolic interactionism – a theory of sociology that says that society is composed of the interactions of individuals.

    I get what you’re saying though! It can be somewhat awkward when worlds collide, mainly because we have our different presentations. For example, I have to be careful to not just “talk shop” with my colleagues if I bring my fiancé with me to an event because that’s not fair to him as a non-academic.

    The good part is, most people are able to adapt! As long as you’re *you*, they’re able to just add to their perception of you rather than be searching for the you they already know and love (assuming you don’t perform a bait and switch, which I doubt you’d do!). Think about when you’d see teachers outside of school as a kid. At first it was like “Whoa!” then you realize, “Of course! They just don’t sleep at the school!” They’re the same, only now you know what they put in their grocery cart.

    Being able to have different selves and performances is what makes us fully functioning humans. It’s brilliant!

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to inundate your comments with sociology, but it’s sort of what I do nowadays. 🙂

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