At the same time that I was studying social media (for librarians) and therefore learning about face theory and discussing the ways identity is performative, on my own time I was also researching William Blake’s mythology. That coincidence provided one of those connections which I found helpful as a metaphor, and it has held up: I think William Blake’s idea of emanation is a good analogy for self-expression. Thinking of self-expression like the creation of a second, separate entity has been helpful to me, and maybe it will also be helpful to you.
Let’s begin with face theory: in sociology, face refers to the particular way a person expresses themselves in a specific context. Face refers to the actions you choose, the things you say, and the postures and facial expressions you adopt; it can be thought of as a mask that changes according to audience and to the type of social interaction underway. People work to maintain their face and they feel emotional investment in their face, so that they become distressed when they lose it.