This seems common sense to me, though maybe it’s an obvious truth that I took for granted or perhaps actually wasn’t fully aware of its implications until later in my life. And what’s most interesting about this axiom are the implications it holds.
This train of thought entails that the self is a multiplicity with one layer being the “true self” and the projections that others have of us as different aspects or angles of the self. The true self is defined as thoughts and feelings that are automatically and naturally identifiable with “who we are” (tautology much?). What separates the true core self from the projections is that not only does the core feel entirely ours and ours alone, it also doesn’t require additional layering, ordering, and explanation like projections do. The core self posits itself as an a priori truth even though in reality the self is a dynamic entity contingent upon interfacing with the world. Put it simply, the self is constructed through the interactions with others and it’s not just a private affair. This makes the core self and projections not so cleanly delineated and defined. If we think of the self in a more dialectical manner than as one having an isolated core self and then having projecting branches, the “the you that really isn’t someone” makes sense in a way. The more that I delve into enneagram the more that I glaringly notice how blind we are to our ownselves. Even people with a clear self-perception and good self-awareness will have blindspots. Part of it being that we can’t accurately view ourselves panoramically in all contexts in an entirely detached manner. The other part is that we deceive ourselves, often times unconsciously, in order to assuage our egos from the existential assaults that life presents us with.
Image is a powerful thing, one that operates and is metabolized on both conscious and subliminal levels and fully and truly realizing this is both liberating and terrifying for me. Throughout my life I’ve always been image conscious, and the older I get the better I am at presenting and refining a certain image I want to portray but at the same time the more aware I am in recognizing the cracks and gaps between the core self, intention, and presentation, and the ways in which that misalignment haunts me. Compared to other people, my sense of self is a bit more amorphous and in flux. But at the same time, it makes it easier to manipulate other people’s projections, as all they really are their projections of their desires and biases towards you, in the way that I see fit. So much that I can better map out and cannibalize their psyches in ways they could never imagine. So why am I (semi-)revealing my tricks of the trade? There is a desire to be found out, as odd as that sounds. I respect and admire those who can pick up my subtle cues and serve it back to me in however way. It shows their ability to see beyond appearances and that is a scary yet beautiful thing to be confronted with as a lot of people I’ve encountered can’t see past their nose. It’s downright sublime to encounter someone with that sort of clarity, to be stripped of the pretenses I’ve propagated.
Image Header Source: https://www.mariakonnikova.com/2012/03/wearing-masks/