It turns out, in another of life’s funny little twists, that sometimes who others think we are is more important than who we are.
Take for example the impact of audience on a performer. It goes without saying that the success of a live performance is relational. The audience matters. I went to a concert recently, I won’t name names, but it was made clear that the singer—accustomed to a warmer, more engaged audience than she was getting that night—was displeased. And her displeasure made for a lack-luster performance. For the most part, the audience did not know her. She was part of a season-ticket line-up. I found her subdued but wonderful anyway and wished I’d seen her in her native Portugal, not chilly, rainy Seattle.
Identity is a strange thing. Often molded by what others see, less by one’s true nature. It is a construct we offer the world. And sometimes, the successful construct becomes the thing itself and is perpetuated, exaggerated and amplified by perception, as in an echo chamber.
And if there really is no there-there, no internal stability, that construct will be vastly more comfortable and vital than the confused, murky, unformed fog that no one really wants. Construct a priori. Works every time.