'Baby, it's either laugh or cry and crying takes way too much energy. If you can't find humor in the shit life heaps on you, you really will grow miserable.'
~Syn (from the book Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kennyon)
Ever heard the saying "Fake it 'till you make it"? Well, even though it's usually just used as a joke, it does a pretty good job of describing my life. Not it's events necessarily, but rather how it has felt to me.
I was a very conflicted child. Always have been. I could never decide which cliché I wanted to be, or if I wanted to be the one that breaks them. I wanted to be mommy's perfect little girl, but I also wanted to be the introverted rebel, and the nerdy loner, and the preppy girly girl, the tomboy, the tortured artist, the book worm, the geek/nerd, the jock, the nature lover, the bully and the bullied, the nervous wreck, the drama queen, and every other cliché you could possibly think of.
So I found myself being all of them. Fucked right? Yeah, I know.
Every time I moved, every time I changed schools, I changed myself too. From school to school and town to town, I was never the same person. Whether or not my true personality matched the one of whoever I was pretending to be didn't matter to me. I didn't really know who the real me was, so it couldn't matter to me. It didn't matter that I was uncomfortable in my own skin or that I wished I could be more or nothing at all, because once the act was started, I felt I had to continue 'till its very end.
I would spend hours speaking to myself in my rooms, in front of mirrors, in my yards (when I had one), telling myself that I was happy being this person, whoever that was at the time. I told myself I was happy so often, that I would convince myself of it, and be my own twisted version of happy. I would learn new interests and practice speaking in different tones I thought matched my chosen character. I even practiced changing my writing (I can now do almost any font, from memory, by hand).
To others I'm sure it would have seemed as an obsession, or perhaps an issue, but to me, it was an experiment, albeit a long one.
Changing who I was at such a constant rate was an experiment not only in understanding myself, but in understanding others as well. For every new personality I conjured up, I would study the way people around me reacted. I would mentally catalog and file how people changed around me depending on my chosen personality for the time. Using that knowledge, I would form a new me, usually using someone from one of my previous schools or towns as a founding example, and change again somewhere new.
Over time, pretending came to me as easily as breathing. It came to me so naturally and easily, that I forgot what it was like not to pretend. Even at home I pretended. I lied and snuck and kept my secret hidden from my mother, my father not being around to discover it himself. My brother was always very naïve and easy to manipulate, and with my knowledge of people, it was always easy to hide myself from him. As for friends, I never stayed anywhere long enough for them to find out about my experiment. Sometimes I didn't even really have any friends, especially if I thought the cliché I was acting required it (like introverts or loners).
I'm finishing my senior year of high school now. And although I stopped creating new characters for myself last year, I never really stopped acting. I still hide myself away and pretend around others, but now I do so without the confines of clichés.
Throughout my life, and my long and ongoing experiment, aside from having a much greater understanding of people and their behaviors than most, I have really only learnt two things.
One, it is easier to pretend to the point of self conviction, at which point it is no longer really pretending, than it is to face yourself fully and not know what you are looking at. I would rather pretend (or "fake it 'till I make it") for the rest of my life, than to face the crappy shitshow that is the world before me, and not know what to do.
And second, it's a laugh or cry world we live in, and it is so much easier to laugh through the pain, and learn to find humor in darkness, than it is to cry over things one cannot, or will not, change. If you are able to laugh through the fuckery of the world, and learn to enjoy it, than not only can you learn to be happy with the good things in your life, but also the mounds of shitty things that come with it.
I laugh at everything now.
I find humor in dark irony and cruel situations. I may seem masochistic for this, but I have learnt to find the pains life chooses to inflict upon me amusing, and sometimes even enjoyable. I've come to a point in my life where I laugh so much that I could not tell you if what I am laughing at is truly funny, or if only I think it is. I have convinced myself so thoroughly that I am happy, and that no situation could ever change that, that I cannot differentiate my genuine happiness from my self inflicted false happiness. They have become one and the same. And I am alright with that. My inability to tell the two apart may seem troublesome or unhealthy to all you lucky people who aren't the same, but to me it's a blessing.
By being able to laugh everything off, and find happiness in the worst of places, I am never disappointed, never sad, and never regretful. I am always satisfied, and although I still hope for more in my life, I don't find myself miserable at the thought of never getting so lucky.
Maybe someday I will learn to stop pretending, and find happiness without deception, but for now, I'm quite happy with continuing my act until the show comes to its end.