There are very few people who I can always be completely myself around. There are a handful of people who accept me and like me for who I already am. They don’t expect me to be more like them or to agree with them or to act more pious or politically correct. But with everyone else, I feel like they expect me to be someone else. Someone more like them. Someone who doesn’t curse like a sailor. Someone who laughs at their jokes. Someone who goes to church and is a republican. Someone like the person I was raised to become.
So I play the part, not because it’s me, but because I respect the person who expects it of me. It’s silly, really. There are different versions of me for different audiences: mes who are more subdued, less vocal, quiet even. There are versions of me who don’t start shit, just sit with my unvoiced opinions. There are mes who are miserable but won’t say it because then I would be unzipping the costume and revealing the real me: the one I’m covering up for my audience who disapproves.
It gets confusing. I forget who I’ve revealed what secrets to, and find myself acting one of those different versions to someone I can be myself around. I am so used to covering up my true self that I forget it’s OK to be her. I’m beginning to lose sight of who she really is. It’s as if she is another version I’ve created to hide the real me who I don’t even know. It’s like staring into a mirror with another mirror behind it: hundreds and thousands of your reflection standing in a line that never ends.
Pick which one you’d like. She is tailor-made to your specifications. Because the original one was made irregular. And who wants something imperfect?
As the great Charlie Schulz once said: “Be yourself…everyone else is already taken…”