Many people feel and behave as if their “true” and “professional” selves are completely different entities. This can be empowering if it allows you to access strengths and skills that you don’t get the chance to utilize in your everyday life. However, it can also be incredibly frustrating if you feel like your personal values and assets don’t have a place in the professional environment.
Regardless of how you feel, your personal and professional selves are in fact the same person. There are many ways to deal with the cognitive dissonance that this relationship provokes. Instead of being Jekyll and Hyde, you can choose to see yourself as Clark Kent and Superman.
What do we mean by “personality”?
Personality has certainly become a buzzword in popular culture within the last year or two, along with terms like “self care” and “empowerment.” It is something that everyone seeks, yet everyone possesses. It is immutable, yet amphibious. It can be very hard to pin down when you are discussing it in casual conversation, and there is no way to guarantee that two people mean the same thing when they refer to it.
The easiest way to describe it might be with the phrase, “You’ll know it when you see it.” And by that logic, people will assume your personality to consist of the most visible parts of you. After all, why would they guess that the person they see in front of them is not who they say they are? If you expect to be taken at face value, at least at first, you should consider what kind of face you’re presenting.
Of course, you know that there is more to you than what’s on the surface. But that doesn’t take away the fact that what’s on the surface is still you. It shouldn’t be a mask over what’s inside; it should be a window.
Personality, for our purposes here, is the sum of your presented and represented self. The presented self represents the represented self. Simple enough, right? But the main takeaway is that the parts of your personality that people immediately encounter in the professional sphere should be a version or part of who you actually are, not separate or opposite.
How do you reconcile person and profession?
You may feel like your profession, or simply the fact of being a professional, limits you in some way. However, whether you feel like it limits or empowers you, what it truly does is give you the opportunity to be creative.
Technically, a piece of paper is a “box” that holds a drawing. But does it limit the drawing? Technically, yes, but by giving it structure, the paper becomes the basis of the drawing’s existence and flourishing. Professional life is simply an opportunity to craft your personality under a new microscope.
How would your strengths shine in your role? What are some untapped avenues through which you can express yourself? Have you been neglecting your prized sense of humor or critical thinking skills because you are unsure of their place at work? They have a place simply by virtue of you being who you are and doing what you do. When people see that you use your profession as a vehicle for your passions and your self, they will realize that they can trust you to not only be genuine, but give all of yourself to your work.