The new persona is the person. The new icon is #nofilter.
Like many of Xillenials (millennials between 31 and 41), I graduated college in 2008 with all of this social capital from a small Ivy college experience. The message: My new identity—college graduate—would confer onto me a number of really special things—namely opportunity. It has.
As I searched the work world, I amassed opportunities that turned into experiences—being an after school instructor, a program coordinator, a developmental specialist, and so forth. Building from my college experiences, I generously added to that initial pile of social capital along the way. As I piled on the roles and positions, the center of gravity that anchored me, with each piling on, shifted. I became a heap of persons. Underneath, I was peering out for moments where the fullness of who I am could emerge.
When we are in the fullness of ourselves, the world that we meet resonates with our being-ness. The opportunities and jobs that we find, really—find us. Necessity is the mother of invention. The work world is really synonymous with a bunch of bundled up needs packaged in reputations. There are needs looking for people to fill them, otherwise known as jobs.
When we are in the fullness of ourselves, the world that we meet resonates with our being-ness.
My 2017/2018 period in a #microblogpost nutshell: Marianne Williamson said that our playing small never served anyone. That’s true because the magnanimity of you—your self—has a need bundle to meet, a door for which you are the key.
It is hard to hear your calling with 50lbs of identities on you. Identities are the “Idea Entities” that either we formulate to help us adapt to who we think others want us to be—including your potential employers, family, lovers and so forth, that helps us adapt to who the grand marketspace that is the game of life. They are the idea entities we create based on what popular media is telling us to be or how we think we need to be. They are the entities we form to shield ourselves from the turbulent world itself.
The best guard is the gut of who you are. For all the calamity, that being our idiosyncratic selves may bring, it sure protects you from a whole heap of other competing selves seeking to draw your attention away from your calling, away from being your magnanimous self. For instance, if I fail at a job, that is a pretty hefty price to bear but recoverable. If I fail at being true to myself—that is a cost almost beyond repair.
Two comedians, Busy Philipps and Jerry Seinfeld give us a clue in their recent interviews with the New York Times as to what it means to stay relevant in this new hyper-connected world. Hint: The strategy is—to be yourself.
In the article “Unabashedly Herself, and Thriving,” Busy Philipps describes her own “human sparkly" theory and the highs and lows of her Hollywood acting career. Her first major role, she recounts, was as the tough “freak” Kim Kelly on “Freaks and Geeks,” followed by a successful six-year run on “Cougar Town” . Although having an award-winning list of credentials on her resume, including “Dawson’s Creek” and “ER,” Philipps experienced bouts on unemployment and deep debt—so much so that one week after giving birth she auditioned for a spot on “Glee” .
Even with all of those accolades under her belt, she credits her biggest breakthrough to what she calls “her own personal sitcom on Instagram” . “When you live truly and when you speak your truth, only positive things will happen,” she says, quoting Oprah Winfrey . That unvarnished self is what media consumers are looking for these days. In an overly manufactured world, people, I believe, are hungering for an oasis of authenticity. They want to move themselves out from under a blanket of wrongness.
Big Pharma’s business model is structured such that they create pathologies for which they only, purportedly, have the cure. They are the arsons and the self-appointed firemen. So much of the advertisements, up until recently, have been focused on a deficit-model: Making someone intensely aware of their lack. That triggers the pain sensors of our consciousness to go out and seek the thing to fill it—whether it is a pill, a person or a position.
When people are told what they have already in hand at whatever amount or level they have it is valuable and enough, Big Pharm loses those eyes. They lose a captivated audience. They lose attention on what their selling. Why? Because people then turn their eyes inward unto their everyday blessings.
In the fleetingness of their 15-minutes of fame, in many cases, 15-seconds, an artists’ or actors’ “big moment” tumbles on and off stage. Philipps highlights that not if but when the Hollywood cameras find their next shiny object, she has her million+ social media following. “I’ve just been around for so long, seeing so many people that are having their big moments that are so quickly not a big moment at all…It’s really flattering that people have responded so strongly to me, Busy Philipps, as opposed to a character” . With 1.3 million followers, Philipps is part of the celebrated cast of “media influencers” .
When we feel the need to be “this person” or “that person” on social media, or in our own intimate lives, for that matter, it is encumbering. It knocks the life out of who we are stuck under those “idea entities”—the true person underneath the storehouse of masks shifts. Because carrying something you are not is weighty.
Busy Philipps describes her own “human sparkly" theory and the highs and lows of her Hollywood acting career.
When we place on our shoulders who we have to be rather than who we are, we are doing a job far worse than what Big Pharma is doing. Instead of hearing an ad for some new magic pill or cream that is going to take away some defect or blemish, we are acting like our own pharmaceutical company’s marketing department.
Tony Robbins said that words are really biochemical signals. Words are essentially the deliver mechanism for biochemical signals that tells our bodies to release more endorphins or cortisol. Have you ever heard something on the news that made your heart sink? There is a real physiological effect to the stories that we hear. What stories are we telling ourselves? What stories are we allowing others to tell to us, onto our bodies?
Marketing is not something relegated to the Internet or TV or the radio, it is the messaging that we receive from the environment, from the people around us as well. There was a study done where teachers were told that a group of students selected at random, unbeknownst to the teachers, were about to have an intellectual bloom and that a special Harvard designed test would predict those destined to succeed. The social scientist for whom future studies were eponymously dubbed, was Robert Rosenthal. Conducting the study in 1964 in a San Francisco elementary school, “the idea was to figure out what would happen if teachers were told that certain kids in their class were destined to succeed” . The result: "If teachers had been led to expect greater gains in IQ, then increasingly, those kids gained more IQ," says Rosenthal .
The Rosenthal effect essentially is the rule of expectation: More often than not, students tend rise to meet the level of the bar placed before them. High expectations means that students rise to meet them. There is also the inverse, what is called the Golem effect. The Golem effect says that “negative or low expectation is believed to yield low performance. The expectation in this case work[s] as self-fulfilling prophecy that can lead to negative results” .
When we hear messages that we are not good enough, ugly, unintelligent, incorrigible, and when begin to absorb and repeat them to ourselves, more often than not we become what we most hear. It is part of the observer-expectancy effect. Those words hurled at you become self-realizing. The large, magnanimous self, without a counter from a good word or two, begins to shrink to fit into a box.
In subsuming to the tongue lashing of advertisers, a hate group, a Twitter troll, we shrink down to their size—small. We lease the most powerful possession we have—who we are—to the whims of fear.
The often cited Marianne Williamson quote in its fullest version goes something like this: “Our deepest fear is not that we are weak. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world ... As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” .
One comedian who knows a lot about being himself, in the painfully and hilariously mundane reality of living, is Jerry Seinfeld. In an interview with Seinfeld, New York Times reporter Dave Itzkoff writes that even in a tumultuous cultural climate, “In some ways, the world of Jerry Seinfeld is the same as it ever was” .
It seems that the way to handle the ups and downs of life is to fiercely be your mundane self—with a little humor…ok, maybe a lot. Whomever, we believe ourselves to be will be ripped a part in the vicissitudes of living. For, the only thing that is constant is change. Seinfeld, when other comedians have either been embroiled in scandal (i.e. Bill Cosby, Roseanne Barr & Louis C. K.) or gone the political commentator route, he stuck with what made his show’s nine-year run a success: Making the utterly benign and the utterly everyday hilarious.
When Itzkoff asked about whether he was grateful that his “comedic muse” did not lead him down a more political path Seinfeld replies, “I like to pursue my own idiosyncratic avenues…I watch Bill Maher or Seth Meyers and I go, I can’t do that well with that; they’re great at it. But I can talk about raisins in ways other people can’t” .
The idiosyncratic is based on emotional logic—and, guess what, so is life.
Step by step, the mystery of living unfolds. Making due with what comes while holding to the center of who you are seemed to have worked for both Busy Philipps and Jerry Seinfeld. In this cultural moment where so much is in flux, Seinfeld writes, “We’re figuring it out as we go along…And there’s something very stimulating and empowering about that” .
One things that comedians do is turn their darkest moments into the delight of nations.
While we are not in anyone of ourselves a nation, we are part of a vibrant existence looking for light and laughter in our darkest hour. That joyous place glows within.