This post follows on from an earlier post where I explored how becoming an idealised version of ourselves in our daydreams affects the skills and strengths we bring to our real life. But recently, I’ve also been reflecting on the potential problems of spending too much time being somebody different.
Everyone, regardless of their daydreaming style, can benefit from taking time to reflect on who they are, what they value and where they want their life’s journey to take them. The better we know ourselves, the better we are able to steer our life in the direction we want it to go. The problem is that many daydreamers have several versions of themselves to get to know. Because of the time we spend being our alter egos, we have less time to get to know our real-life selves. And not having a strong sense of who we are in real life can lead to problems:
We allow other people to determine who we are
If we don’t have a firm sense of our strengths and values, we risk taking on the values that other people project on to us. In other words, we become the person that other people want us to be or think we should be. And if that’s too far away from the authentic person we were meant to be, we can end up feeling that we don’t fit into the life that we find ourselves living. When we aren’t being true to ourselves, we feel that something isn’t right, but if we don’t know our true selves, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s wrong or do anything about it.
We become more sensitive to criticism
When we don’t have a firm belief in our fundamental worth as a good and valuable person, we are likely to take criticism very personally. Instead of brushing off a negative comment because we know it doesn’t fit with who we really are, we take it on board and accept that we’re stupid or lazy or boring or whatever. When someone expresses their opinion about us, we’re likely to accept that opinion as fact unless it contradicts something we already believe about ourselves. So if we don’t have a strong sense of who we are, we’re less able to filter the feedback we get from others.
We struggle to identify what we want
If we don’t know our values and what’s most important to us, it’s hard to identify what we want out of life. In the daydream world, that doesn’t matter so much, because we can have anything we want – we can try out one lifestyle for a while and then simply switch to another when we get bored. In real life, we have to work towards the things we want, and it’s hard to identify what’s worth putting your time and effort into if you don’t have a clear idea of how much you’re going to value it when you get it.
So, what should we do about it? I’ll be honest, this one is still a work-in-progress for me, so I don’t have all the answers yet. For me, it’s about noticing the things that bring me joy, both in real life and in my daydreams. It’s about noticing what my alter egos and I have in common. The things we share are the things I’m living all the time and the things that feel most authentically me. So I’m building on that.
Maybe some daydreamers can enjoy being someone completely different in their daydreams and can benefit from the change in perspective that comes with seeing life from a totally different viewpoint. But for me, I think I need a stronger sense of who I am first. And I think that involves narrowing the gap between myself and my alter egos, taking the best parts of them and integrating them with the best parts of me. I have strengths, traits and ambitions buried within me that have only ever been expressed in my daydreams. But just because they’ve only been expressed in my head up to now doesn’t make them any less a part of me. They are still facets of my personality that I can draw on when I need to. I can use daydream strengths to work through real-life problems. And by doing that, I’m growing into the person I was always meant to be.