Playing a character when engaged in social interaction?

Page 1 of 1 [ 14 posts ] 

CyclopsSummers
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Jun 2008
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 3,241
Location: The Netherlands

16 Sep 2017, 4:39 pm

Lately, when I speak to anyone outside of my house, whether it be at work or on excursions, or any other place that requires social interaction, I feel that rather than presenting myself as the true me, I play a character that's a bit more easy-going and cheerful than the actually am. My past experience has been that people are turned off by my normal morose quiet and bookish persona, and so, for the sake of moving a bit more smoothly through the crowds, I'm simply acting out a part. It's not entirely watertight, and sometimes the mask cracks, especially if I have to keep it up for a long time, but in general I find it a useful survival mechanism.

Has anybody any similar experiences?


_________________
clarity of thought before rashness of action


hurtloam
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 27 Mar 2011
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,717
Location: Eyjafjallajökull

16 Sep 2017, 5:29 pm

I have heard of other people doing this. One of my friends suggested playing a part, pretending to be outgoing would help me make friends, but i can't be anything other than who I am. It's just not how my brain is wired.

I don't know how to be someone else.


_________________
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose


bobchaos
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Joined: 20 Aug 2017
Gender: Male
Posts: 79
Location: Somewhere between the North pole and South pole

16 Sep 2017, 11:28 pm

Not just you Cyclops, I refer to that persona as my 'social adaptations', and I consider it a necessity to navigate life in NT society, especially at work where I'm often mixed in with management (In a previous job I actually was management, and then I ran my own business for a bit). I dunno about you, but I find maintaining this persona is mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Eventually tho, I get a major meltdown in public, at which point I feel compelled to burn all the bridges and start over somewhere else (which is why I'm no longer upper management or running my own business :/ ). If this is exhausting for you too and you got (or can acquire) the right skillset, I'd recommend you try getting a job in an engineering team of some kind. Lots of NDs and phenotypes end up in engineering, so I feel less pressure to "put on my face" all the time knowing I'm not the weirdest guy on the team.



CyclopsSummers
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Jun 2008
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 3,241
Location: The Netherlands

17 Sep 2017, 12:45 am

Thank you, hurtloam and bob. Bob, I can relate to what you're saying about burning bridges and starting over elsewhere, I've experienced the same at several occasions. At my current job at the warehouse, I haven't yet reached a point of meltdown, though. Part of what helps me maintain the 'façade' so to speak, is that I have recently had quite some responsibility thrusted upon me by becoming the senior employee on my subsection. This also allows me to get away with being my overly-serious self, since I have to keep all my trainees in line.

Lately, there were also a couple of college students working there as a summer job. We had some mutual interests, so I was able to talk about some topics which genuinely interested me, which is rare on my job. Now that they've left, it might again become more difficult to stay 'in character', as more energy will be directed there. But yes, I also find it very exhausting. Unfortunately, I have no degree in engineering, so I'll not be able to find an Aspie-heavy working environment for myself. The closest thing I had was when I was working at a book repair shop. Lots of eccentric types there who were interested in art and science, great experience. It's sadly a dying trade.


_________________
clarity of thought before rashness of action


hurtloam
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 27 Mar 2011
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,717
Location: Eyjafjallajökull

17 Sep 2017, 12:47 am

What do you do to put on this character. How is he different from who you really are?


_________________
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose


CyclopsSummers
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Jun 2008
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 3,241
Location: The Netherlands

17 Sep 2017, 9:04 am

hurtloam wrote:
What do you do to put on this character. How is he different from who you really are?

It's basically an amalgam of several ex-co-workers I admire. There was one lady I worked with in 2011 who was always friendly to everyone; I adopt the way she addresses other people, I somewhat copy her speech patterns. Of my other co-worker from my previous job, I adopt the way he explains practical things. Of my old floor manager/head of department, I emulate her matter-of-factness and problem-solving approach.

My actual 'at home' personality is very reserved, quiet, overly-logical, fond of structure, serious. In my speech, I like using big words and formal expressions. I don't particularly enjoy making small talk, especially with strangers. At work, I soon learned that people were put off by me, and to minimize friction, I simply tried to copy people who I thought had a pretty easy time interacting with others, and whom I quite liked. And eventually it evolved into this persona.

I'm still seen as a relatively quiet and strange person, but it could be a lot worse if I didn't use this method to compensate.


_________________
clarity of thought before rashness of action


bobchaos
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Joined: 20 Aug 2017
Gender: Male
Posts: 79
Location: Somewhere between the North pole and South pole

17 Sep 2017, 10:03 am

CyclopsSummers wrote:
Unfortunately, I have no degree in engineering

Neither do I, but you'll find the IT sector is quite forgiving. You just need the skills, not the degree. Also worth noting there's tons of non-engineering jobs in those departments. I work very closely with people in communications and marketing for instance.

hurtloam, the "character" was at first something I created through mimicry like Cyclops describes, but at some point it just became part of me and I feel like I can't stop doing it even though it's making my life difficult. It's become a survival reflex to do it, same as holding my breath when I go underwater.



Alita
Velociraptor
Velociraptor

User avatar

Joined: 21 Oct 2013
Age: 28
Gender: Female
Posts: 407
Location: Surrounded by water

17 Sep 2017, 1:24 pm

CyclopsSummers wrote:
Lately, when I speak to anyone outside of my house, whether it be at work or on excursions, or any other place that requires social interaction, I feel that rather than presenting myself as the true me, I play a character that's a bit more easy-going and cheerful than the actually am. My past experience has been that people are turned off by my normal morose quiet and bookish persona, and so, for the sake of moving a bit more smoothly through the crowds, I'm simply acting out a part. It's not entirely watertight, and sometimes the mask cracks, especially if I have to keep it up for a long time, but in general I find it a useful survival mechanism.

Has anybody any similar experiences?


Yes, I've always done this. I don't think it's helped me, though. Whenever I dare to be my true self, surprises usually happen. I think I'll do it more often, now you've reminded me. :)


_________________
"There once was a little molecule who dreamed of being part of the crest of a high wave..."
(From the story 'The Little Molecule' - Amazon Kindle, 2013)


floodwater
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

Joined: 6 Aug 2017
Age: 19
Gender: Male
Posts: 30
Location: US (pacific northwest)

19 Sep 2017, 12:19 am

i've done this since i was 14 and couldn't figure out why i was behaving like that, i wasn't doing it on purpose.. i thought it was anxiety but over time realized it was a defense mechanism triggered by an unpleasant social experience


_________________
「 if you're going through hell, keep going. 」


shadowtag
Sea Gull
Sea Gull

User avatar

Joined: 19 Feb 2013
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Posts: 218
Location: Florida

19 Sep 2017, 11:59 am

I think I often passively absorb characteristics of people around me, especially if I like them or find certain characteristics fascinating; I don't think I realize that I've integrated their mannerisms into my own until later, unless I attempt to mimic intentionally.

I think this is common amongst all people though I'm reminded of the saying, "He who walks among the wise, will himself be wise" or something to that effect; we have a tendency to become like those we are around whether conscious of it or not. But when you intentionally try to stretch yourself to assume personality characteristics not congruous or less than congruous with your own it can indeed be exhausting over time as it requires effort, and so straining to maintain a persona can create exhaustion...


_________________
Christian, Aspergian, Recovering Bundle Of Neurotic Anxieties.


Alita
Velociraptor
Velociraptor

User avatar

Joined: 21 Oct 2013
Age: 28
Gender: Female
Posts: 407
Location: Surrounded by water

20 Sep 2017, 12:11 pm

shadowtag wrote:
I think I often passively absorb characteristics of people around me, especially if I like them or find certain characteristics fascinating; I don't think I realize that I've integrated their mannerisms into my own until later, unless I attempt to mimic intentionally.

I think this is common amongst all people though I'm reminded of the saying, "He who walks among the wise, will himself be wise" or something to that effect; we have a tendency to become like those we are around whether conscious of it or not. But when you intentionally try to stretch yourself to assume personality characteristics not congruous or less than congruous with your own it can indeed be exhausting over time as it requires effort, and so straining to maintain a persona can create exhaustion...


I think this is a very human thing. Scientists have found people's gaits tend to resemble those of their parents or the people they were around when they were learning to walk. I know I tried to be like my mum a lot growing up. I would cry if she cried, even if I didn't feel like crying at the time.


_________________
"There once was a little molecule who dreamed of being part of the crest of a high wave..."
(From the story 'The Little Molecule' - Amazon Kindle, 2013)


AprilR
Raven
Raven

Joined: 8 Apr 2016
Age: 26
Gender: Female
Posts: 104

24 Sep 2017, 6:30 am

Yes, i've been doing it since high school. I used to play the overly social-cheery role but now i'm playing the overly nice and polite one. It seems closer to my real personality, and people really believe it. Because of that i don' t want to meet with my old friends bc my "persona" has changed multiple times by now.



ASDABCs
Hummingbird
Hummingbird

Joined: 13 Dec 2016
Gender: Female
Posts: 19
Location: Behind you :)

27 Sep 2017, 4:54 pm

I feel like this. Now that I'm in college I can play "chirpy, helpful girl", but ultimately I slip up and my "social awkwardness" seeps through, leading to people pushing me away. I have a hard time connecting, so I do things that I think might make people think I don't like them or don't care about them.

I like the song "Let It Go", (yeah, I know, Disney, :p) because it seems to describe my life. I have to be the "good girl" and can't "let them see" who I really am, meanwhile my "ice" or icy disconnectedness/ASD seeps through especially when I'm emotional or too tired to control it, and so I end up having to isolate myself in my own "kingdom". :(



BirdInFlight
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 8 Jun 2013
Age: 55
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,526
Location: If not here, then where?

27 Sep 2017, 5:49 pm

This is related to "masking" in some ways. I would say perhaps it's not so much that you're "playing a character" so very different from your "real" self, so much as you are bringing out aspects of your self but deliberately so, in order to smooth the way during interactions.

I act "cheerful" to smooth a social interaction even though I'm not feeling it, and I don't feel it's something that isn't part of the "real" me -- it IS, because I can be cheerful for real. It's not a character you play, it's just elements of yourself that you have deliberately brought to the moment because you know that it will get you through that moment better than a less positive impulse at the time.

ALL human beings do this, when you think about it. People must shield their REAL impulses all the time in order to engage in a social interaction, otherwise there would be chaos. It's not a character divorced from anything you really are. It's just aspects of yourself you are suppressing or bringing forward for survival reasons.