Are you a different person depending on where you are?
I think we can agree that we act differently depending on WHO we are with. We act differently with our co-workers than we do with people in our church, or our good friends. But what about WHERE we are.
Even co-workers will act differently based on whether it is a meeting, a company event, or talking at a bar.
And what about vacations?
Vacations can certainly change the dynamic of a family from how they are at home. My wife and I tend to adopt a “sense of adventure” meaning we’re willing for a few things to go wrong. We actually travel very well together, even though Google often leads us down a lot of blind alleys. I tend to be less worried about work and the writing.
Now it’s understandable that certain places might put us in a more relaxed state of mind, but making us more willing to deal with difficulty, to forget the concerns that are always on our mind, but it can have an even subtler affect.
I tend to be a bit of a snarky, sarcastic fellow (my wife calls it picking). It’s always meant in fun, like a friendly jab, but it gets tiresome. And yet somehow, when I’m on vacation, I can leave this part of me aside.
Some people use location as an excuse to do whatever they’ve always dreamed of doing (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas).
I’m not sure why any of this is, but I think it’s something interesting to think about, both in your life, but also in your writing. Part of creating a fully human character involves understanding how we interact with the world, no matter where we find ourselves.
5 responses to “Locational Personality”
I agree. I know that I feel completely different once I cross the Tamar into Cornwall. I have no idea why. I’ve speculated that it’s a past life memory, coming back to a place I feel safe and associate with happy times or simply that it means I’m away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Interestingly I find it hard to write in Cornwall but remembering the feeling of calm and freedom and light when I get back does inspire me and I often write more productively as a result.
I have actually tried to used new locations as a way to change my personality. Especially when I’m on vacation with friends. I’m usually a very rigid person and I’m pretty sure all of my friends get tired of it after a while. Inevitably.. something comes up that I just can’t let go. I can never figure out why I’m the only one angry at some things.
We definitely have situational personalities, but I believe they are short-lived. The true core of who we are comes out eventually. I moved to Maine because it was my dream to live here. At first I felt like a whole new person – all flexible and philosophical – but that faded and my tedious controlling, perfectionistic ways returned…at least in large measure. Yet I still love Maine, so that’s something!
This is a good observation, one that I intend to make use of in my writing. You’re right about characters needing to be fleshed out, and this is a consideration I hadn’t thought of really. I need to be more aware, not only how my character relates and adapts to the people he/she is with but also to the place he/she is in, especially if the place can be used as a motif or part of the characterization. Lots of rich ideas flowing now, thanks to your insight here. Good stuff!
Reblogged this on K. A. Young and commented:
I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to character since I’ve been trying to get into the head of a boy, just turned 14, who’s had a less-than-ideal upbringing and is about to find himself in a foster home. This post by Ben Trube proved to be mental mulch, fostering fruitful ideas for more nuanced character development–not only that of the boy in my novel but mine in life.