I was ashamed of myself when I realised life was a costume party; and I attended with my real face.
- Franz Kafka
My real face. My authentic self.
Versus the role self, of course, the one where we learn to wear a mask while growing up.
While therapists will stress the importance of being the authentic self all the time, certain spiritual teachers suggest that, instead, we should be chameleons, playing the necessary role at the necessary time - much like wearing a swimming costume to the beach, but your Christmas jumper to the annual family gathering.
So let’s play this game, and start with what the therapist said. Let’s say that somewhere on my journey of self-unfoldment, I decided that being a goth is intrinsically who I am. therefore, I decide to dress as a goth to both the aforementioned places (think Marilyn Manson).
Would I then be prepared to be judged and treated differently? And would be my actions be appropriate?
Perhaps the question is, what am I trying to prove? And to whom?
The other day, my kids told me about a seed, that when planted, grows into the same kind of tree that it’s been planted next to. I explained that this imitation is how it is able to survive.
Do we imitate, or do we dare to be different?
As always, it’s about the why.
Why do I wear a Christmas jumper? Because I like to feel part of something bigger.
Why did I shave my head? Because I needed to express a feeling I had inside.
Would it be appropriate to shave off all my hair on Christmas day? Only if I wanted to be the centre of attention (overcompensating for low self-esteem, say).
There is a time and a place - and that has nothing to do with making yourself small.
And you can only do this when you know who you are. You adapt from a place of power, not weakness. You bend because you can, not because you have to.
So real face or not real face? Which do I show?
I’ve realised that nowadays, sometimes the answer is not quite as simple. There are many levels of truth after all.
Much like the fact that a sunset is actually nothing more than celestial body moving in a certain direction, there is simply no need to talk about certain things. For one, many people are unable, or even unwilling, to handle “the truth.”
My social inexperience sometimes translates into ineptitude, meaning I have been known to see things as I am, rather than as they are.
And so without further ado, I came to the conclusion that people don’t need to know who I really am – because, in actual fact, I’m a purple dinosaur.
Sure, there are those that know this. They accept this authentic and, I guess, vulnerable, me. Of course, this is a lovely feeling and I feel warm and fuzzy inside - but, fundamentally, I don’t need this acceptance because I know who I am. I no longer have the immense void in me that sought validation in my actions.
Having said that, it’s strange then that one day, I go out and accidentally forget to cover my tail. I scare some people. I realise they’re not meant to be in my life. But I feel sad nevertheless. I miss them. They’d been with me since I was just a wee egg.
But then soon after, as The Law of Attraction would have it, I meet another purple dinosaur. And then a green one. And then another purple one with polka dots. I meet people just like me. Because I was never odd, rather I just hadn’t met my dino tribe yet, the one where I belonged.
And that’s when I felt little sorry for Kafka.
I wish he’d found some purple little friends too.