Since a child, I have had a fascination with the teenage mutant ninja turtles. The way that the four brothers work together towards bettering their community has always inspired me. Because of this, they have helped to structure my communication style, as well as my love for humanity. Although each turtle originally wore a red mask, later versions gave each one a unique color. Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael each have their own personalities that are reflected in the color of their mask. I like to compare myself to these turtles and am often asked which is my favorite, or with which one do I most identify. My “spirit turtle” changes depending on my mood or activity, so that I am one being with four masks.
Leonardo wears a blue mask and is the leader of the four. He helps to promote unity and structure, and many times throughout the stories, his leadership helps the team to achieve their goals. Generally, blue is a calm, stable color and Leonardo’s mask color reflects his calm, stable personality. In the 1990 movie, Leonardo nurses Raphael to health after a losing battle as well as keeps faith that Master Splinter is alive. Through focus and meditation, he is able to help maintain a strong team even with the absence of their sensei. When I was growing up, I found myself leading many adventures, whether it be starting the campfire, or designing and building the wrestling ring my friends and I hurt each other on. Now, I work to help new business owners find their niche, and identify their goals and values. Being able to give people direction and solve problems is a double edged sword, because in teaching, I also learn.
Michaelangelo wears an orange mask. This is fitting for his party hard personality, as orange is a blend of red’s energy and yellow’s happiness. Mikey’s light hearted attitude helps to brighten some serious issues that the team has to deal with. He resembles what people think of a surfer dude although he generally uses a skateboard. I have spent a big portion of my life being a class-clown. Unlike the traditional version of a clown, I have enjoyed using humor to advance a situation, rather than derail a conversation. I have said many times, “The only thing I take seriously is my jokes.” But have recently decided to take other things a little more seriously. It was my orange mask that inspired me to reflect on my multiple facets and write this. On my birthday, I was asked if I was anything more than a good partier, and I am, but that’s not really what I show off.
Donatello wears a purple mask. Purple is often associated with magic, and Donatello’s tech-knowledge is somewhat magical. In the movie “Secret of the Ooze” he hacks a computer to find out that one canister of ooze from TGRI still existed. When Raphael and Leonardo are arguing, Donatello and Michaelangelo spend time together. My ability to use technology to help influence consumer behavior helps me to identify with Donatello. I have developed around 20 phone applications and hundreds of small business websites. Although I am not an early adopter for most tech, I do have an ability to understand how people use tech advancements with their daily lives. Due to this, I consider myself more of a technological sociologist than a tech expert.
Raphael wears a red mask. Red is a very powerful color as it is packed full of passion, ranging from love to anger, which can be seen through Raphael’s personality. Raphael is a doer, and that sometimes collides with Leonardo’s calm, planning forward personality. He often breaks away from the group to try and get things done, which led to him meeting April O’Neal and Casey Jones, as well as being attacked by the foot clan several times. My humanitarianism parallels that of Raphael. I volunteer with several organizations that are structured to make the world more betterer. I sometimes hesitate to plan and just want to run around free of responsibilities and let my passion guide me. Like my other masks, I have found the need to balance this character trait.
The creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are pretty smart dudes. Their story not only entertained, but also inspired. Still today, kids are singing their praises, and I have a feeling that their story will live on. I wrote this self reflection to help explain myself in a creative way, and while I did it, I learned a little bit. One of the problems that the turtles have is that they have to stay underground and conceal themselves. They strive for acceptance from the community and don't really get that, regardless of their efforts and successes. Using the masks allows them to conceal who they are (different from the public). We all have masks that we put on when we go to work, or talk to friends, or whatever. The understanding and balance of these masks can help to reduce identity conflicts. We are who we are, and when we put on a mask, we get the power to be.