Which Self Do You Bring To The Community?

This week i am building out the work around Communities, exploring how we join them, build them, or are excluded from them.

When we join a Community, we bring our ‘self’ into that space. But which ‘self’ do we bring?

That may sound obvious: me, myself, and I. But identity may be more fluid than we realise: indeed, it may be something we curate in each and every space, according to unwritten, and yet well understood (although possibly opaque or contrary) rules.

Not so sure? When did you last choose to dress up, or dress down, for a particular situation? When did you last sit in a group where you held back what you really thought? When did you last laugh at a joke that was not funny?

As ever, Organisations have an answer to this: sometimes they ask us to bring our ‘authentic’ self, our ‘our whole self’, or even ‘our vulnerable’ self. Often they explain why they want us to do this. And yet, we don’t: we hold something of our ‘self’ back from every situation (some people would argue that there is not ‘one’ central self: that we construct our ‘self’ contextually, in every situation).

Perhaps if ‘self’ is a difficult thing to consider, we can instead look at limiting factors: not ‘which self will you bring’, but rather ‘what would restrict you from bringing the self that you choose’? Or in other words, how are people prevented from being their one true (or chosen!) self?

Social consequence, risk, judgement, fear, the list is long. But it is the list we must understand and trade within if we wish to earn the right to meet the real ‘you’, or the real ‘me’. Or at least, the ‘you’ or ‘me’ that we would best like to bring to this particular party.

This work builds upon the work published in the Community Builder Guidebook.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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