All that is visible, tangible, cognizable, or otherwise can be grasped and interpreted with our sensory and intellectual faculties are not permament. Everything and everyone, save for the certain elusive variables which are impervious to spatial and temporal events, are subject to inevitable mutation. Personality, or the combination of characteristics and qualities which comprise an individual’s character, is not exempt from such a process of transformation. It is true that each individual is equipped with a particular set of psychological inclinations towards which they are naturally predisposed, but there is no denying that every single one of us, including our personality profiles, is shaped and modified according to the sum of our life circumstances, people with which we surround ourselves, and the knowledge derived therefrom. What each of us emerges into this world as is scarcely more than a biological network of potentialities. No completeness or wholeness is remotely close to having eventuated itself; even at the time of biological expiration, completeness never occurs.
So why are adjectives such as “fake” or “genuine”, “authentic” or “inauthentic” often used so casually to describe an individual’s personality or character? And, why do people tend to be dichotomized in such a way?
Firstly, it would help to elucidate such words, which can be defined in a few different ways. “Authentic” means that which is true, veritable, or legitimate. “Inauthentic” means the very opposite of this. From a philosophical perspective, “authentic” means that which is not impoverished of its essence or intrinsic nature. An authentic person is also one whose existence and transformation occur independently of any sociocultural expectations; in other words, a person who is intrinsically motivated.
Such terms used to describe other people can be fairly meaningless unless you know someone’s bona fide personality, as that would be the ontological grounds by which to make a comparison. But, how do you know what someone’s “real” personality actually is? How do you know when someone has coloured outside of their own personality delineation and where that delineation is even located? It cannot readily be identified, especially by another person. Theories and empirical assessments aside, we cannot ascertain 100% another indvidual’s personality. The most knowledge of personality would be that of our own, insofar as I am within the closest vicinity of the extent of my own formation and everything that ever was, is, and will be in it- the efflux of my consciousness as well as my past, present, and future- emanating outward towards all in its path and inward again.
I, like everyone else, contain essential and existential properties of what make me who I am, but a metaphysical question is what are those essential and existential characteristics? I, like everyone else, am also also function of time and, similarly, my personality is also function of all knowledge, or information shaped by understanding, that I have hitherto acquired. Accordingly, the different fragments of my personality constantly rearrange themselves in order to create a distinct permutation of me, at every given moment in time; Nonetheless, it is still me. There is a certain continuity of self through time which we are always maintaining, but in other ways, we are all transforming to various degrees.
Existential properties of a person are bound to change through time. Such changes, as I perceive it, only make for an inauthentic person if the person changes who they are according to sociocultural mandates or otherwise extrinsic variables. If a person alters their existential characteristics out of intrinsic motivation, or inner necessity, they are still being who they are. Bear in mind, it is a transformation of the self, but they are still “them”, you are still “you”, and I am still “me”.
There is going to be some level of precariousness in every individual. The colours of someone’s personality can’t be expected to reveal themselves in an identical way throughout their life as humans are highly complex biological systems. If certain colours of your personality are revealing themselves out of inner necessity or desire, and not merely according to your environment, there is no inauthenticity. Besides, predictability is boring.
This brings me to the maxim, “First impressions mean everything”. I, personally, do not subscribe to such a line of thought as a first impression provides scarcely more than a fragmentary view or an abridgment of the totality of everything that makes someone who they are. If someone, whom I meet for the first time, presents themselves to me as being rude or disagreeable, and that same person is ostensibly more gregarious and loquacious, and furthermore is talking to me about very interesting topics during our second encounter, that person perhaps is revealing a different colour of their personality towards me. Perhaps the person’s behaviour is manifesting itself a certain way as a result of genuinely felt emotions. The different impression said person bestowed upon me does not entitle me to the conclusion that the person is “fake” or “inauthentic”. They are complex and precarious, just like the rest of us.
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