Be yourself, don’t hide behind an imaginary role

How many social media accounts do you have? Do you have a Facebook account? Do you have a Twitter account? What about Instagram? What about Snapchat? What about Google+? In this social-media-crazed world that we live in today, it is hard not to compare your life with other people’s lives. Do you ever wonder, is what you see on social media a real reflection of other people’s lives, or is it what they want you to see? How does it make you feel about your own life? Do you portray yourself differently on social media than what is happening in your real life? When you do that, you are acting out an imaginary role within your own life. You are not being yourself. Rather, you are hiding behind an imaginary role.


You are an Oscar-winning actor/actress

The greatness of an actor/actress lies in the fact that he/she forgets himself/herself in the portrayal of his/her character, becoming so identified with it that the audience is swayed by the realism of the performance. A good example? Look no further than Heath Ledger portraying the Joker in The Dark Knight.

Although being an actor or actress may not be your full-time job, you are actually a very god actor/actress in your life. In fact, you are an Oscar-winning actor/actress.

You are not just an Oscar-winning actor/actress. You are also an Oscar-winning script writer and an Oscar-winning director.

Confused? Please allow me to explain.

You are the star of your own life. You are the script writer of your life. You are the director of your life. You are all these people for your own personal movie that you project outward each day to show to the world around you.

When you are acting out your personal movie, you start looking for supporting actors/actresses to include in your movie. What do you do if you find people who do not like your script writing, directing, or acting, or who you don’t feel are acting the way you see fit? Simple, you swap them out for better ones that fit your criteria. Once you find the perfect supporting actors/actresses (in case you are wondering, these supporting actors/actresses are called your friends), your can project the image of totally awesome life as everyone is swayed by the realism of your performance. And because your supporting actors/actresses think you are very good, you start convincing yourself of the role you are playing.

This realism makes you think that you are a great actor/actress. Eventually you become so good at acting that you don’t even know how good you are. Soon, you bury yourself in the notion that you are exactly that person in your personal movie. For example, you might be showing the world that your life is perfect and fabulous, there is absolutely nothing wrong. You are happy all the time, you can always get the things you want, and you travel around the world in business class, staying at 5 star hotels. Or you might show how hard things are in your life, and how you can’t believe this or that happened to you, you are living your own drama and milking it for what it is worth.

Thanks to social media, which allows for projection of your personal movie to the entire world in a matter of seconds, you become preoccupied with keeping up with appearance of this personal movie. You become trained to show this personal movie and personal image of how good your life is. However this also creates an incomplete picture of who we really are as people. It will never show the full picture of a person, only what each person wants to share with the world.

Quite often, these movies and images on social media do not reflect who people really are on the inside. People can show off that they are living in a fabulous world with expensive cars, designer clothes, and high-end gadgets. But in reality some of them are hiding from their internal demons and sadness, plus they might not even have the money to afford all the luxury they are showing off, and therefore ending up in huge debt.


Keeping up with the Joneses

Acting out this personal outer movie can also lead you down a never-ending rabbit hole I called Keeping up with the Joneses.

The term “Keeping up with the Joneses” was started in the 1910’s. Thanks to social media, I believe keeping up with the Joneses has become a past-time hobby for many people.

When you are continuously exposed to these personal movies and images on social media, it is extremely difficult not to ignore them. At the same time, it is extremely difficult not to play the same game.

As humans, it is natural for us to hide the things we believe are unacceptable about ourselves. We hide behind our personal outer movie and create acts to belong to certain social groups.

Therefore, creating this fake image that may require buying things just to show off is a dangerous slippery slope. If we are not careful, falling into consumer debt is inevitable. As we try to keep up with the Joneses, we may fall further into consumer debt, resulting in a never-ending nightmare.

Rather than focus on creating the perfect personal outer movie, look from within to find joy in your life instead. Be comfortable with yourself. Stop worrying about what others think about you. Be yourself.

Be more selfish

One way to be more comfortable with yourself is to be more selfish. Not selfish in the bad way where you are inconsiderate for other people, don’t care about others around you, and only concerned with your personal profit or pleasure. Be selfish in the “good” way. Rather than comparing yourself with others and constantly trying to find out what others think about yourself. Stop worrying about other think about you. It is your life that you are living. Others aren’t living your life for you. Who cares if Mr. Jones living next door thinks you are the cheapest person on earth? If you are happy with yourself and your life, does it matter what others think about you?

Therefore, stop creating your imaginary role of your personal movie simply for other people. Be true to yourself. Know what brings joy and what makes you content in life.


Achieving joy in life

Contrary to popular belief, happiness and joy are not the same thing. Happiness is often externally driven; it’s an instantaneous moment. For example, if you win the lottery, you feel happy, if you get promoted at work, you feel happy, if you just purchased your dream home, you feel happy. Happiness is a momentary feeling that tend to disappear after a certain time frame. You are often left wanting more. On the other hand, joy is internally driven and does not have an expiry date. You can be joyful when you wake up each morning, knowing that you’re still alive, you can be joyful knowing that you are loved by someone, you can be joyful when enjoying a nice summer day in the sun.

According to many researchers, there are two real things that create joy.


Purpose + Connection = Joy


What does this formula mean? To me, it means you should follow your purpose and it will lead you to a connection, resulting in joy. How to find your purposes? First, you must put yourself in a state of being vulnerable.

Speaking of a state of being vulnerable, one of my favourite bands, Tool, has quoted Timothy Leary in one of their songs:


Think for yourself

Question authority

Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself.

Think for yourself.

Question authority.


Being vulnerable means open yourself up wholeheartedly and being perfectly honest to receive critics from others. To do this, you must be willing to be comfortable with yourself without taking these critics personally. Leave your ego out so you can improve as a human being. Be comfortable of being you, become who you are in your mind and express that outwards. Let you true self be seen with flaws and all.

Next you need to change how you interact with the people around you. Some examples are:

  • To love with your whole heart – love all beings in the world. We are all created equal.
  • To practice gratitude – be thankful for what you have, be thankful for both giving and receiving, be willing to give and receive freely. Too many of us are willing to give but we are not willing to receive freely. It is a two-way street!
  • To stop talking and start listening – listen to what other have to say instead of saying me, me, me all the time.

By doing these three simple things, you will find connections within your life.

Joy comes from within. Learn to stop constantly looking forward to the finish line. Stop thinking what if’s and start enjoying the journey and the present moment. Reaching financial independence does not mean that you have crossed the finish line. Instead of thinking about financial independence as a destination, think of it as a personal journey. 

If you are not happy now… do you think you will be happy when you are finally financially independent?


Final Thoughts

Thanks to social media, it is very easy to get caught up in the role playing game. When you are playing the game of creating fake images to fulfill your personal movie, you will soon bury yourself in the notion that you are exactly the person that you are portraying in your own movie. You will lose your sense of directions and what is important to you in life.

Instead of becoming an Oscar winning actor/actress in your fake personal movie, be comfortable with yourself. Find what makes you happy and what brings joy in your life. Open the many different doors in life to understand what your life purpose is. Create a connection with other people and become appreciative of what this world has to offer.

Think for yourself.

Be yourself,.

Enjoy the journey, because life is too short.


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17 thoughts on “Be yourself, don’t hide behind an imaginary role”

  1. Great post. A lot of people can connect to this.
    I find the millennial generation (I belong to this generation) is sort of fake in a sense we live our lives virtually than the real life.
    I find we have to use it as a platform and not get consumed.

    • Yea being an older millennial I kind of feel that often there’s a separation between real and virtual lives. It shouldn’t be the case, both should be the same…

  2. Great post. I only started blogging and getting on social media. I’ve never been one to feel the need to be in the limelight.

    Over the last few years I have been focusing on being truly thankful for what we have. I this mindset change really started in parenthood for me. Our kids genuinely focused our attention on the here and now instead of racing to a finish line.

  3. This may be my favorite post of yours, Bob. We all need a little “real” sprinkled into lives that are too often lived in cyberspace in ways they are not in real life. Thanks for the reminder, Bob. Let’s hope we can all take it to heart and “keep it real”.

  4. Philosophical – a good write up Bob.

    For me in my twilight years having experienced & seen many things in my 70 years. I am from the old school – old ways, before advanced technology, raised poor in post war Europe, an immigrant, I have never been a materialistic person.

    When I communicate, meet someone on the street, in a store, wherever – it’s always the same me. ‘What you see is what you get’. Whether in cyberspace or the Walmart parking lot.

    I am a simple person from humble beginnings. I am not a sensitive person, I lack tack & diplomacy, can be abrupt at times, I criticize a great deal, I look at everyone & everything twice over. I trust no one but myself. I lack faith in people, places or things & believe in ‘what comes around goes around’.

    I have never been bored, depressed, or let anything get under my skin, I will always walk away from conflict to let others deal with it for the reason there is never a true winner.

    I am at peace with my life & my family, I shall protect both to my death. Financial wealth or it’s importance means little too me, other than enough income to pay the bills. I don’t believe in giving money to charity, I will share what little knowledge that I have with those that will listen.

    My time is my own – not yours, so don’t encroach

    I don’t find the need to prove anything to anyone, for my generation is ‘anti-establishment’, I don’t follow rules that are against my beliefs & to this day I keep to that.

    Yet for the past 45 years I have kept a copy of ‘Desiderata’. I read it line by line regularly in awe & yet I still need to keep on reading it. I ask myself ‘is there something that I am missing’!

    As for ‘cyberspace’… it isn’t real, or is it?

    The important thing is to question everything. As simple as ‘string theory’

  5. Great post. There is so much truth in what you’ve said and I wish more people had this mindset. I’ve never subscribed to any social media and continue to think it was a great decision. Better to live authentically!

  6. I’m not a fan of social media either. It has become too much of a “show off” sport, where people “show off” how that awesome thing they did on the weekend, or that incredible luxury vacation to Bali they just took.

    I think social media ends up setting the wrong expectations for people about their lives. Life is not an endless series of fancy dinners, parties, and exotic locations. Sure, those people might look happy in the vacation photos, but they still have to return to their boring 9-to-5 job when the vacation is over. Maybe they put that vacation on a credit card and can’t pay it off! Maybe the other 355 days a year they feel miserable.

    You just never know! So, I mostly avoid social media.

    • Exactly! People tend to post the “good” times only and that creates a tendency for other people to do the same. It’s also a lot about getting more and more followers, especially on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Who cares if you have 1,000,000 followers? The worse is when people deploy the follow-unfollow strategy to try to increase their follower counts.

      What I enjoy about social media, especially on Twitter is having conversations with other people and having a discussion over a certain topic.

  7. I don’t like social media at all. It’s nice to keep up with friends, but the interaction got more generic over the last decade. Previously, we’d talk on the phone or write emails. Now, social media dominate our interaction. It’s not personalize and we just see the highlights. In my personal life, I just check Facebook once in a while. Most of my friends aren’t updating it much anymore either.

    Good point about acting in your own role. It’s hard to be true to yourself when you feel like you have to be “on” all the time.

    • Yes it’s true that interaction is getting more and more generic over time. Often people only update on Facebook when they’re on vacation, and this creates a false image of their lives.


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