Layers of self

. 2 min read

You know the scene in Shrek (2001) in which Shrek explain to Donkey how ogres have layers - he demonstrates the idea by peeling off an onion. There's the external layer, the one that makes people fear him. Then there's a layer about his interests and delights in life. Then somewhere, deep within, in the very core of the onion, there might just be a gentle soul inside.

You know where this is going. YOU ARE AN OGRE you are a layered onion, too! Shrek, like any other character in that movie - Donkey, Fiona, Gingerbread Man, Farquaard - and in any other movie ever made, in fact - are written based on human character attributes. It doesn't have to look like a human in order to be human in its essence. Shrek is written based on the grumpy old dude who's lost interest in life and other people and is angry at the entire world in his martyr-ish way. (Don't tell me you don't know anyone who fits that description.)

So, as I said, you have layers as well. But what do they contain? Picture the onion in your mind, twist it open at the top, and peel away the layers a little. What do you see? What's between them? Furthermore, is the juices of the onion bursting out? Or is the onion all dried up?

This is a very interesting and apt metaphor for your character, and if analyzed sincerely, it might just tell you things about yourself in a new light. Here are some preliminary questions you can ask yourself to paint the mental picture of the onion that you are:

  1. What kind of an image of yourself do you share with strangers and acquaintances?
  2. How would your friends describe you?
  3. What secret passions do you have that only your family know of?
  4. What things about yourself - deepest desires, past deeds, thoughts - you wouldn't tell anyone, ever?

You can start with those, asking more detailed questions in the between, and continue as deep as you can go. Who knows what you'll find. (Bonus points if you draw a demonstrative picture of the onion as well.)