There have been a few periods of my life when I pretended to be somebody else.
The vast majority of those were during childhood and occurred exclusively in my mind or in a childhood game and lasted only hours or a day. They were part of a business called Being a Kid, carried out with neighborhood friends, a schoolmate perhaps, where we pretended to be characters from the realm of popular culture.
But one of those pretendings occurred during Grownup Time and existed out there, for real, in the world, and lasted longer than a day. The details of what that was and why it is no longer is not part of this post or even this blog, because the important thing about Beyond Childhood Pretending are its benefits.
For people who are, like myself, otherwise inhibited, self conscious, and fall anywhere along the spectrum of the Painfully Shy — for those people, pretending is like channeling one’s own Sasha Fierce, becoming the Secret Service Agent that protects your public self, with impermeable boundaries nobody can invade. It “unhibits” you. Opens you up to the possibilities that “You” hadn’t considered. It’s like acting, taking on a role that You Yourself wrote for You.
It’s a form of travel — to borrow from an episode of Seinfeld — like taking “a vacation from ourselves.”
Most of us live necessarily compartmentalized lives. The people from work see us differently than those who live with us, and differently than those who wait on us at a restaurant, store, bank, etc. Then there are those who maintain second selves, double lives, who carry on affairs, secret dalliances, and indecent activities. And there are those who consciously live in the shadows, hiding out, for the sole purpose of eluding authorities, aka outlaws.
I’m not talking about the latter two. I’m talking about the escapists, the “self vacationers,” who find liberation in personae. I imagine there are probably very few of us who don’t get tired of playing ourselves all the time and would feel liberated from some space. After all, every relationship needs space now and then, and it’s liberating to get some, returning to your Self a different, more vibrant person, just like returning refreshed from a much-needed holiday.
I find myself craving that time when I went by another name, presented myself to a small slice of the world as her, who couldn’t be found when she journeyed back to me.
For the fun, the adventure, and the liberation.
Like the first time, as kids, when we really knew how to play.