Everybody has an alter ego--or two, or three, or more. Some people's alter egos are poorly integrated and bitter parts of themselves: envious, greedy, or perpetually resentful. You know them: muttering in their cars after work, passive-aggressively undermining coworkers, stretching lunch breaks, feigning sick days, and exacting an embittered revenge on the world. People who have this as their alter ego--not just an occasional bad day--fail to deal with their own shadow side and thus see it projected on the world around them. Martyred and aggrieved, they are put upon by the world, never seeing their own starring role in annoying the heck out of the most patient of other people. They have cast themselves in the role of ailing patient, long-suffering protagonist in the drama of life.
Some people's alter egos have not built the defense of anger over their fear. Instead, they cling to a lifeline in a roaring sea of terror. Every decision is grounded in fear dressed up as rationality and prudence. If they could garner the courage to behave angrily, their rage would terrify everyone in their world, but instead they cringe, semi-invisible and yet sullen that no one seems to pay attention to them.
Some people's alter egos are expressed within prescribed roles in elaborate games--role-playing, video or otherwise. They may have superpowers, or be powerful in other ways; they try out another way of being like a teenager switching from pop to punk overnight. Adapting to the parameters established by someone else's imagination, they furtively express aspects of the self that they are afraid to reveal in their real lives. The degree to which they sink into this role impairs their ability to invest in the real world and, maybe, be a bit more "super" out here.
Other people's alter egos are the parts of themselves that whirl in a vortex of guilt and shame, the endlessly self-recriminating "woulda-coulda-shoulda's" of cowardice, failure, hesitancy, or awkwardness. The alter ego always knows what to say and do, and practically hums with the electricity of "My Way." Disappointing conversations and missed opportunities go into endless reruns, except the intrepid alter ago makes it all go better. This leaves the "real" self, of course, feeling steadily more like a craven excuse for an adult.
Agonizingly shy, this was my specialty well into adulthood:
Lori to boss: "I have TB. We found it when we were having clients tested. My doctor and my priest say I need to...