(This is my own interpretation.)
I was presented with a very interesting question today which triggered a massive tsunami of thoughts and arguments at the back of my head.
“What is the difference between personality and character?”
It was easy for me to just put a textbook definition to the two words, but as I brainstormed over that question in a group discussion, it began to open up to me.
‘Personality’ is who you are. It is what you are made of: “A combination of emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral response patterns (Source: Wikipedia).” Although everyone is wired differently, there are a few categories that we can be classified in, which can be measured with personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs and the DISC assessment.
Having understood that, your personality is a big part of who you are. Maybe you don’t like who you are, but the truth is you may tweak and make changes to your personality, but you won’t be able to totally transform something that has been with you all throughout your growing up stages. I remembered reading something from long ago, that an individual’s personality is set for life once he turns 13 or 21 years old, but I can’t seem to recall the exact details.
On the other hand, ‘Character’ is a role that an individual plays. Take video games for an example, you select a character. This character is who you would like to be, who you would like to be portrayed as and to show the world.
Your character determines the role you play. Quite literally, if your character was Ryu in Street Fighter, you would be a Japanese black-belt martial artist.
In essence, your character is metaphorically just a costume that is worn by your personality. Your personality is the skeleton that holds the costume up. You can have a lousy personality, i.e. ill-mannered, insensitive and blunt, but you can be playing a good character, like the Good Samaritan or Jesus, helping the needy and feeding the hungry. Having a lousy personality does not disqualify you from being a good character.
Similarly, you can have a strong personality, i.e. influential, charismatic, loyal and fearless, but playing the character of a drug dealer and distributing substances for abuse.
Often we are so judgmental about a person’s personality. We magnify the shortcomings of others to make ourselves look good. If only we are able to take a step back and look at their character instead.
I know my personality is flawed. I can be too stubborn, egoistic, arrogant, insensitive, the list is endless.
But I know my character, and as far as I am concerned, the words on my neck are there for a reason,
And they still read “Proven Character”.