A note: I initially wrote this because I’m struggling with myself and what I want to be. I wanted to submit this to a blog made by another group (not ours) for class (helloyouniverse), but I felt that this was inadequate, both as a piece of writing and as a summary of a few months of self-searching. So here it rests on my resurrected blog.
When I look at the mirror, all I see are my personas.
I see fat written all over me, I see loser, maybe, and I see self-loathing. I see the set of my breasts, why yes, I’m a woman, and I see short-and-stout. I see a teapot. I see the boiling point coming on slowly, I feel myself steamed up, I’ll shout soon, I bet.
Tip me up and pour me out.
I see my laptop, and I see half my life on it. I see the page it’s on, my connection to five hundred and eighteen people. Each person knows me differently, names me accordingly. The stories on my page are compartmentalized by experiences and emotions and feelings and people, photos painting a different picture of myself every single time.
I see words. I see the creases on my forehead, the tint of red in my cheek; I see the yellowing teeth from a cigarette too many, I see patches of dry skin. And I see the irreparable imperfections left by my twenty years of living: scars from a contagious disease, bruises from where I’d been kicked, once before. And I step back and look beyond my face, and I see a disfigured body, a result of years of sadness and euphoria, pound for pound for pound clumping together in this one mass called me.
When I look at myself, all I see is a poseur.
I tell people what I watch and what I listen to and what I like, and they give me a look, oh really?, before they dismiss me completely. I’ve been stuck in this cage for the longest time, the cage that says smart-and-nerdy-and-boring, like I can’t be anyone else or like anything else.
I hear the music playing. Float On – Modest Mouse. Not nearly as edgy as the most obscure of the indie, or the sick riffs of classic rock. Not as tragic as the morose sounds of whiny singer-songwriters (which—no offense intended, I like some Ed Sheeran occasionally). But it’s what I like, and even music, too, is an opportunity to brand. Indie? Pretentious. Singer-songwriter? Boyband? Gay. Rap? Meaningless. Rock? The “real” kind? Hard-fucking-core.
We’ll all float on, okay.
I see the pieces of paper I’ve wrinkled and torn. It screams at me, failure, failure, not good enough. It tells me fake intellectual, it tells me pseudo-artist, it tells me to just. Stop. Writing. I’m not a writer, I’m a management student. I’m an artist, but I’m not that good. I’m reliable, but not trustworthy. Not enough to pursue friendships, anyway.
It’s dramatism. I need a mask with every person I see, because each person sees me as a mask. And then I wonder how thick my mask is, how it’s sewn itself deeper and deeper, how the costumes become tighter and tighter until my skin absorbs them into my being. It’s making me a bit delirious, all the pretending. But it’s necessary, because my naked self is an unbearable mass of the undesirable, a great deal of annoying, a whole stretch of loud, and boisterousness, and I clutch onto these masks and costumes like a vice because my naked self—and this is the self that craves liberation—has dealt with a great number of insults, a great number of slurs and holy-shit-she’s-horrible and it’s bruised and battered and fragile.
I’ve got a great deal of ego, and I am unafraid to admit it. Perhaps it’s why I hide in the cloak of too-nice-but-too-boring: boring is not nearly as insulting as conceited. And conceited doesn’t pack the same punch as mayabang. I’d be nice and smile and listen, because I’d hate to bruise the only shred of self-worth I’ve got left.
So I settle for pretentious intellectual and I allow myself to grow by that name, embracing knowledge and thought and find grave offense in anything not nearly as offensive. I am an everything-ist: a humanist, a secularist, a feminist. I’d label myself genderqueer and pansexual because it’s as safe and as unbiased as I can get. I’d call you out on your problematic wording, I’d wave my flag of superiority, and I’d tell you that you’re wrong and I’m right, and I’d fail to see how being right hurts you.
And you’d tell me.
And I’d tell you, much much later, that being right might hurt you, but the truth hurts me.
People name what they cannot understand. At the risk of sounding trite, take love, for example. It’s easier to say “love” than say “that feeling in my chest” or “the knowledge that someone you genuinely like gets you.” It’s easier to say “love” than “I appreciate my mother for what she’s given me” and “thank you for your support.” It’s easier to say “love” than explaining the role of various neurotransmitters and its effects on your heart rate. It’s easier to say “love” than “I want that dress in my closet.”
And it’s easier to stereotype than to understand. It’s easier to categorize people into “nerds” and “geeks” and “jocks.” Easier, still, in the university context, to label people as “boring” or “cool” or “hey, she’d be my friend.”
And what to call the outliers?
I AM A POSEUR: I walk in someone else’s skin, I listen to someone else’s music. I am not in touch with my true self, if that even exists. I am, at my core, insecure (and I certainly know what for). I take myself too seriously, and I try to think of making a statement every single damn day. I know I’m not the best, but I think I’m better than you. I listen to rock and punk and indie and pop and tell you, in true elitist fashion, that I’m not listening to the latter. It makes no sense to listen to pop when you’re as serious as I am. I can tell you that I’m deep as shit and that I’m edgy and angry, even when I’m not. I can tell you of this sadness clawing at me, or how I see the world so sullenly, even when I am, at heart, a hopeless romantic.
And I will, because I pretend.