Public Self vs Private Self: Which is Which?

Photo by: Jason Rosenberg

Photo by: Jason Rosenberg

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi

For many years, I hadn’t been able to align these two facets of my personality. In public or with friends, I was lively and energetic, vibrant, even funny. It was a different story when I was around people who knew me well. My private self was in stark contrast to the bubbly goof ball who always cracked jokes. I was way too serious, brooding, even morose – not much fun to be around, to be honest. I felt I had to put up a façade because my relationships, livelihood and self-image depended on it. Who would want to be around a sourpuss? So, I continued with my little charade: the hyperactive jester in public and the lethargic dud who occasionally exploded in thunderous anger when provoked.

That didn’t work in my favor because, although my intentions for putting on a public face were (sort of) noble, I thought of myself as a fraud. I suffered immensely and envied those who were living authentic lives and didn’t have to wear masks. I also wondered which of the two Louies was real, and sincerely hoped it was the public one.

“Who am I, really? Why do I not mean what I say and say what I mean?”

I’m not out of the woods yet and it’s pretty normal to not want to contaminate the world with low vibes, yes? We can’t blame people for wanting to present a pretty picture of their lives to everyone. Their identities are too intertwined with their imagined selves. Why do you think Facebook and Instagram are part of our modern existence?

Lately, however, I noticed I have been taking major steps towards living the authentic life I envisioned. If I don’t feel like doing something, I say it without sugarcoating. If there’s a project I can’t commit to, I won’t. If someone hurts my feelings, I call them out (not all of them, but ‘some’ is better than ‘none’). I also realized that it is impossible and unnecessary to please everyone, so I don’t even try. There are people who will never like me and God bless them. I have been rejected as many times as the next Broadway or Hollywood aspirant – by potential bosses and love interests – and each time, it sucked. Through it all, I try to be as transparent and honest as I can with myself and the world. I may not share what I feel all the time but I won’t make my emotions, and, in the process, my life, into something they’re not. I won’t flip sadness on its head and hope it bursts with fruit flavor. I won’t smile through gritted teeth anymore or chase after people who don’t want to be seen with me – I’ve had one of those too many. I strive for peace within, and hope it radiates and covers my entire being.

Meditation and yoga, as well as brutal self-evaluation, help me come to terms with things I can’t change. These have also given me the courage to plow through and live with difficult life decisions with as much grace and humility as I could muster. I don’t always succeed but it’s in the trying that we overcome.

I’m on my way to alignment. One day, my self and Self will be One. That is where true freedom and happiness lies.


  1. Amen to that. :)

  2. Hi Louie! I super feel you. And like you I feel I come closest to harmony when I surrender to God’s flow–yoga, meditation and prayer. Sharing something that gives me certainty on days of push and pull, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13

    Your writing is beautiful :)

  3. Lisa M. Pilapil says:

    “Who am I, really?”

    “One day, my self and Self will be One. That is where true freedom and happiness lies.”

    One with you, Nak! :) All my love!

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