The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines the word persona as "a character assumed by an author in a written work."
With that definition in mind, let's take a look at a "written work" that we find ourselves using on a daily basis: social media.
Whenever we log onto social media, we are bombarded by an array of posts that illustrate the lives that our friends and acquaintances are leading.
They share photos of their daily activities on Instagram, post life updates on Facebook, and tweet their innermost thoughts on Twitter. Social media has allowed us to be closer to loved ones and friends, giving us a window into their daily lives that we never really get to see when we're around them in person. In a way, it allows us to be within each other's presence when we're apart.
Yet, whenever I go on social media myself, I never really see anyone's downfalls.
We never hear of failure or disappointment, we never see anyone looking disheveled or unkempt, and we never hear of anyone breaking it off with their spouse or romantic partner. There are some people who post their entire lives on social media, capturing every single moment in life that they deem important. They live their whole lives within the social media sphere, going so far as to post "goodnight" statuses or seek advice from strangers via interest groups on Facebook or Reddit.
This obsession with social media leads us to develop our persona: the person we want to be seen as.
We design a sort of character for ourselves and project them into the social media universe for people to perceive and analyze. We want others to see us as successful, kind, beautiful, generous... anything that will boost our own self-importance and public image. Politicians, CEOs, celebrities, and other personalities know how to do this to a tee, even hiring image consultants who craft these public personas for us to fawn over.
This idea of the persona has also given rise to the influencer, a phenomenon in the world of Instagram.
Usually incredibly attractive, these internet-famous folks have no real talent other than curating an aesthetic for the gram and doing paid posts for a company hawking a juice cleanse or a belly-flattening tea. While some of them do have some sort of shtick or gig, most of them just project a persona that all of us try to live up to. With their expensive cars, designer clothes, and exotic vacations, they project an image of success that comes from their persona: the image or character of a highly stylized, attractive, rich person.
I'm not saying that the persona is negative, but what I'm saying is that we all have a persona that we project into the world, whether it's planned or not.
However, it's important to not let ourselves become hung up on other people's successes and accomplishments that get posted on social media. While it may feel like people are progressing in their lives at a faster rate then you are, they aren't going to broadcast their failures or disappointments. It's important to allow yourself to progress in your own way and not to worry about what others may think of it. It's easier said than done, of course. It takes time to make a life for yourself that you feel proud of. But trust me, in the end, you'll be glad you did.