People, Stories, and Boxes

People strike me as enormously odd. As I get older, I am starting to think “level headed” is a state of mind that someone made up. What I am realizing is, people often role play their lives. Everyone wants so badly to portray some story and play the lead role:

  • To be the wealthy boss with a nice car, who grand stands in meetings, and who is the big personality at social events
  • Or the smart person, who wears glasses, wears jeans to work, and who can work from their phone from a coffee shop
  • Or the beard guy, who wears flannel, has a dog, and likes a good micro-brew

Everyone tells them-self a story. In the end, if you’re putting on a show… you’re putting on a show.


Whether you think it is cooler to be the guy who wears trendy glasses and works out of coffee shops or the guy who drives a Mercedes and wears a three-piece-suit… that’s just a matter of opinion. The glasses guy gets up in the morning and dresses to fulfill a certain persona. So does the suit guy. Both think they are pretty slick shit.

It’s largely a geographical thing too. In Boston you’ve got Harvard, MIT, North Eastern, and BU all practically in Boston. Apparently vision in Boston is worse than in New York because everyone wears glasses and no one has heard of contact lenses. Persona. Storytelling. Image. In New York it’s about being busy and looking sharp. There’s a grunge scene, of course. But there’s more expensive suits, tie clips, suspenders, three piece suits, and power ties.

We are this world of crazy people telling ourselves stories. The positive side is that it results in some form of culture where cities have their own DNA. In Boston it’s glasses and maybe crazy hair like Einstein or a bow tie to be a hipster smart kid. In NY it is Wall Street Exec meets the starving artist. In Portland Oregon it’s tattoos, piercings, and beards.

Is It Doing Any Harm?

I think that when you have most of the Western world trying to tell themselves stories about who they are, that really takes away from the richness of our stories. You get fewer eccentric personalities. Fewer unique individuals. If everyone were to ignore their story, they’d wander off the beaten path more. They might find themselves wondering about other people’s stories. They might find themselves in line in a coffee shop and not worrying about being the guy with a MacBook tucked under their arm playing their role. Instead they might actually talk to a few people in line because if they stop giving a shit about playing a role… isn’t it much more interesting to ask questions and find out about other people’s stories? Isn’t that why gossip and TV exist, because other people’s stories interest us?

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Want to read more about where worrying about image gets us into trouble? Check out my post on creative work spaces.



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