Do you ever wake up feeling, just not yourself? I do, often. And by choice.
Here’s the thing. I’ve never been diagnosed with a personality disorder or taken hallucinatory drugs. I’ve never wanted to be an actress. And, believe it or not, I really love myself. But, despite all that, I pretend I’m other people. A lot.
It wasn’t until very recently when I gave a full out performance as Fiona Apple (sullen look, pouty lips) that I realized this might not be normal. I mean, c’mon. Fiona hasn’t been relevant in like a decade, though I’m still praying she comes back with a major vengeance and even more sullen. But I digress.
It’s pretty natural for little girls and boys to play make believe. They’re encouraged to think creatively, to believe in the fantastical and impossible. In fact, one of the things that I think sucks most about adults is that we don’t play make believe enough. Am I losing my mind?
The other night, my roommate came home and we chatted about how our days went, you know the usual. What's unusual and what she didn’t know was that just an hour before, I was Paula Dean. Complete with authentic southern drawl and utterly ridiculous adoration for butter. I went on and on to no one in particular about my days in Savannah and two beautiful boys. But I’ve never been to Savannah. And I don’t have children.
There's no drawn-out process before my transformations. I don’t decide the night before who it might be fun to act like, practice my lines, or even show this side of myself to other people.
My metamorphosis usually makes an appearance when I’m doing something boring and repetitive, like blowdrying my hair (cue my Dominican hairdresser accent), or chopping vegetables (cue my Rachel Ray-inspired cooking show).
If I’m feeling particularly energetic, I become Beyoncé and nail a dance routine, then continue about my day as though nothing ever happened. I own these characters like it’s my job.
Most of the people I pretend to be aren't people whose lives I want. I don’t exactly look in the mirror knowing life would be so much better as Paula Dean. My daily trips to the Land of Make Believe just provide a little relief from the more monotonous moments of being a grown up. My mother warned me about it and I am now suddenly smack in the middle of it -- being an adult.
If I’m going to pay a shitload of bills, I might as well do it in spandex as Jennifer Beal in "Flashdance."
I’m pretty sure everyone has gone through their phases of trying on faces. When I was little, I would pretend I was a teacher and draw a lesson plan on the mini chalk board in my room for the class before me. When I was a teenager, I regularly transformed into the whomever was the hottest singer out at the time, mouthing the words to that week's hit in front of the mirror as if I'd been doing it all my life. As I’ve gotten older, those days haven’t stopped.
If my skin and hair are especially glowing, then I’ll shoot my own beauty commercial, and trust me, you’d buy my product. When I feel empowered as a woman, I give a motivational speech to a room of teenage girls no one can see but me. Actually those are my make-believe moments I am most proud of. I mean, who doesn’t want to help the youth, even if they are invisible?
One of my happiest Halloween moments was dressing up as my lifelong hero, Frida Kahlo. It gave me a legitimate excuse to pretend to be someone else, although I would have worn that costume to work if I could.
The unadulterated joy (and drunkenness) in the dressed-up adults around me reconfirmed my sneaking suspicion: that we are all really just big kids who still love to pretend. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Unless the person you are pretending to be hurts children or animals, or doesn’t like cheese.
Is anyone else out there like me? Is there a part of you that pretends to be Beyoncé, a superhero, or even a Muppet, when you’re all alone? .