Public Life, Private Life

Photo by Robbie Cooper from his book Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators

Photo by Robbie Cooper from his book Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators

I lead several lives:

  • Private life
  • Personal life
  • Family life 1
  • Family life 2
  • Online life
  • Work life
  • Anonymous life

And I play many other roles such as citizen and consumer.

On the list above, they might go from “the most me” to “the least me.”

I suppose there is even one more level at the beginning, and that is “what I know and I don’t want to admit even to myself.” But I am relaxing on a Sunday evening so let’s not go there 🙂

Private Life – This is how I am when no one else is around and I don’t play to any audience whatsoever. It includes my thoughts and feelings, and what I do when no one is watching. Something I would do privately would be eating half a bag of chocolate chips and throwing away the wrapper. Rom would watch the Box of Corgi Puppies video 3 times a day on YouTube (but that’s no longer private because I watch it with him now!)

Personal Life – This is how I refer to my domestic life and married life, and it incorporates everything I do that isn’t in the public realm. Eating, sleeping, housework, health, fitness, etc. Not all of this is private, but it’s not usually noted by anyone else (unless one is a blogger, ha!)

Family Life 1 – My first family life is everything that concerns me, Link and Rom as a family unit. We have our own lifestyle as a family of three, and certain ways of being and communicating when we’re together and when we’re not. We have shared values and traditions and a feeling of solidarity.

Family Life 2 opens up to include our parents, in-laws, Link’s dad’s lovely family, and our whole extended circle. One thing I really like about our family is that everyone is labelled as a full person – no one is a half-something or a step-something or an ex-something. They are all called just by their names. And every side of the family has been really welcoming of guests at holiday gatherings. I can’t claim jolliness all around, but we do have quite an encompassing clan!

You would think that an online life could be very impersonal, or even completely fake. But I don’t have another persona that I use for gaming or flaming! As I’m sure you know, Ms. Exacting is an exaggeration of my meticulous side, but I am not that person all the time, only 98.43% of the time…

Sometimes it is easier to share stories or worries with an online community than with real life friends and family – the partial anonymity makes it feel safe. It is freeing to share ideas “out there” on the Internet and then adapt them for “real life.” By the way – you guys are real too, aren’t you?

In some ways, work life is the real-est life of all. If I spend 8 hours a day at work, my personality is going to show – how could I hide it for that long? Yes, I need to behave in a professional manner and always be aware of the code of conduct. But for me there is no big disconnect there. One thing I love about working at a public library is that the staff discuss books, movies, music, food and news all day, so we make our own cultural community.

Finally I have a life in which I’m unknown – when I go shopping, or wait in an airport, or go see a fireworks display. I do see people I know, but mostly, I am just a face in a crowd. I don’t mind that at all – I have no need to be recognized or acknowledged. (That would be why I don’t act or sing for a living – well, that and a lack of talent!)

I suppose my goal in life is to be my same self all the time, and you know what? I think I’m getting pretty close.

Do you have more than one life? Which is your most authentic?

See also: my About page


  1. I definitely have more than one life. I’ve been experiencing a bit too much “private life” lately because I was home sick all of last week with only Toby the turtle for company (my housemate was away).

    I have different levels of “Friend Life”, like you do with your family. There are friends that it is great fun to hang out with, and then there are friends that I can talk about the big issues.

    I agree about it being easier to share ideas and thoughts online sometimes than sharing them with people in real life. I think the anonymity makes it easier, and also the fact that we communicate by writing rather than talking, which gives you more time to think about what you want to say.

  2. I think I’m mostly the same – and I aim to be as well! I certainly feel I’m truly me with the BF, and almost 95% so with my parents and brothers, and that largely comes from not feeling judged.

    I weirdly feel a little more ‘restrained’ in my online persona, based on my peers. I take a strong influence from you – from you kind and inclusive attitude to all, always being upbeat, not being too self centred or melancholy. I do actually think of things to write about, and then I think of them through the lens of my online community. For example, I’ve more than once thought about writing about how I wouldn’t ever like to have a single child family, but haven’t as I’m not sure I have the finesse to express my opinion without offending those who live in that situation. I’m even tempted to post this anonymously!

    I agree you can’t withdraw much at work – for the next 5 weeks, I’m acting as my boss. It’s scary, because it does require me to hold my tongue more, but also bring attention to deficiencies in work output. It’s my first experience in the work context, so I’m definitely finding ‘me’.

    Great post!

    • Thanks, Sarah! I know you will rise to the challenge of being in charge at work!

      I think there’s a difference between “choosing appropriate content” for your blog, based on its theme, and “writing something that may offend.” A lot of people blog because they want a forum for their own opinions and they like generating controversy. I am rarely offended when someone describes how they think or feel about a situation, because they are simply writing about their own opinions. If I completely disagree, I’ll either comment with my own views, or not comment at all. A good example is the strong feelings people have about working-outside-the-home moms and stay-at-home moms. So, needless to say, I think you should post what you like, and trust that we’ll keep reading, and not have to agree with you about everything!

    • I’d love to hear your thoughts on not having a single child family 🙂 And I still read blogs by many bloggers that I don’t agree with on every point – but they do stretch my thinking and make me examine my own feelings on those topics.

      • Thank you Dar and Amanda for encouraging me to write on my thoughts, not for controversy, but to share my opinions and reasoning. I enjoy commenters as much who disagree and challenge my views though. Certainly through Amanda’s links, I’ve read things I wouldn’t have immediately have thought of, and agreed with, but having read them, have challenged my views and expanded the possibilities in my mind.

      • I like being challenged and thinking through my own reasoning for why I believe the way I do.

  3. Most definitely! While there are elements of me that are present in all of the me’s, I can relax my guard in some versions of me.

    Like you I can’t maintain a false me at work but I am not sure it is the realist of me. I like having friends who don’t judge me or expect me to behave a certain way because of my job.

    • Although I try to be myself at work, the majority of staff change their behaviour around me because I’m the boss. It’s a strange feeling when I walk into a room and the conversation stops! I didn’t think I was that scary, LOL!

  4. I definitely behave differently depending on the situation and who I’m with. I’m imagining myself as a Venn Diagram with a bunch of circles because at the core, I’m the same person, but there’s little changes that I make (this topic is off limit with my colleagues but not with my family, no one knows that inside joke except my cousin, etc.). But I feel most comfortable with my husband and immediate family – they’ve seen me at my worst and still love me. 🙂

    • I am the same but the differences are not major. As I mentioned in a previous post, I definitely self-censor. It’s partly shyness/reserve and partly overdone politeness 🙂

  5. I think I am the same at home or work but being quite a private person I feel more relaxed and comfortable being myself when with my husband and the girls. I think when you first meet someone new it is hard to be exactly yourself in case you have very different opinions and you don’t wish to offend. When people first realise I am a vegetarian they often say ‘well I don’t eat very much meat’ and I wonder if that is because they think I might think badly of them for eating meat. (which I wouldn’t by the way!!)

    • I know what you mean. I am a very reserved person indeed and I don’t enjoy spirited discussions with strangers about controversial topics. I know some people do, but I can’t oblige them!

  6. This had me thinking, I am mostly the same person no matter where I am, but I would have to say I am my most authentic at home, alone, my private time. But my fun side comes out more with family and the grandchildren which is a part I don’t express much when alone.

  7. Fiona

    It think it is easier to share stories and worries with an online community. You start to feel as though you really “know” people through their online personality…but then you realise it might not really match their “other lives” all that well at all. It’s an interesting question as to how well our online lives match our other lives.

  8. I think I’m mostly the same but I probably tailor myself a little for different situations. I had to laugh at your Private description, it reminded me of something that happened last week. It was a hot night, I wandered down the hallway in my shortie pyjamas, toothbrush in mouth, to get a glass of water. The door opened from the sitting room, and I come face to face with one of my son’s 18 year old friends, who no one bothered to tell me had popped in to stay the night. I don’t know who felt more awkward!

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