Performative Living | The Never-Ending Up Keep

four women sitting inside fendi cinema


What is performative living? It’s putting on the ritz for the world. Performative living may have you ON all the time. In many cases it’s being done by celebrities or egotists who need a lot of attention or validation. And then once they’ve received it an overbearing need to keep on keeping on. The underlying issue – insecurity. I can think of the perfect performative bunch. Can you?

Celebrities and big name reality starts are the most obvious performative living culprits, but it does not stop there. This way of being runs rampant even among regular folk.

woman standing behind red curtain
Performative Living | Photo by cottonbro on


It’s no wonder we’re drawn to them. We see only the best of them. We see them glamoured out and dolled up and that’s how we see them. They are generally on their best behavior, but it’s always interesting to observe those rare moments when they do tread off course and have a human folly. Tis is life I suppose.

We are drawn to them because they put on a fabulous show with the help of Instagram especially and now TikTok.

It seems to be some sort of alternate universe that we dwell in. We interact less and less with one another. Spend little to know time having deep meaningful conversation with our best friend or loved one, but on average spend 144 minutes a day on social media. More than two hours a day is the average. Preposterous it seems.


Performative living according to experts in the mental health field is a high anxiety situation. You can never relax. Peace and chill even harder to come by. You aren’t really able to let your hair down and be you. You don’t get to experience the lushness of your authentic self. It is just all for flash and limelight and those who get caught up in the cycle tend to miss out on a lot of life. Experts say the upkeep in performative living is constant and one is not able to be totally present in the moment because the mind is so preoccupied with the performance, the act, the external part of us that needs to be a certain way, and present a certain narrative. While it may not even be knowingly or consciously, but it’s based in an idea that you have to live up to certain expectations put on you by others or by yourself.

You may not even realize the performance you put on because at this point it’s just become you. So you begin living in this costume of sorts not ever able to just ride the natural waves of life and feel totally comfortable in your own skin.

The curtain never falls.

woman reading a script
Performative Living | Photo by cottonbro on

I talked to Psychotherapist Katherine Jansen-Byrkit about performative living and intrinsic self worth on the latest episode of the Blossom Your Awesome Podcast Ep. #39. You can give it a listen here. She says it’s essentially a means to make up for an internal feeling of lack.

Posted by

Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

Leave a Reply