How many of us think we need to change who we are for someone or something else? If you’ve never felt this way, congratulations. You’re in the mythical minority. Much of the time, we try and change ourselves for people we love, or to accomplish some sort of vocational goal. When I use the word “change,” I imply the alteration of permanent, essential self. The clearest example I can present is that of cosmetic surgery, drastic dietary sacrifices, or enhancement of your physique with substances.
We Are Infinite
It’s critical not to change yourself for someone else. I even mean for someone you love. Change your action, your reaction, your mindset, your clothes, your hair, even how much you curse. Please, I implore you, don’t change yourself at the core. I’m talking about things bigger than body positivity or who you identify as attractive in the fleeting moments of low self-esteem and sexual impulse.
Carl Sagan got it wrong when he said we were made of star stuff. We’re grander than who we want to screw. We’re more than how we feel about the fleshy temples we all reside in. Yes, take care of your body. Don’t disrespect your self-worth and our Creator by treating your body like garbage. But your skin won’t matter until wayyy down the road, after you’ve already been dead and gone quite a while.
I’m not here to start theological or moral discourse on the sanctity of our temples of the Holy Spirit (i.e. your corporeal body). All I’m saying is that we are soul stuff. Who you truly are is an objective, permanent truth rooted in the fabric of your being.
I’m talking about the the way your soul manifests in the words you speak; the roles you play; the steps you take; the way you present yourself to this world.
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And…play many parts.”
William Shakespeare As You Like It (II.vii)
This is one of my favored quips and quotes. Like most of the intellectual greats, Shakespeare is often quoted out of context. This particular quote has contradictory interpretations which correlate directly to the permanence of your celestial body. This quote implies performance perpetual.
For some, the world as stage might be oppressive. They might feel the need to be “on” all the time, presenting a perfectly polished self. That’s where they misunderstand. A perpetual act isn’t so much about the image or mask you portray, as much as the acting you do.
The stage of life is about improvisation. It expands the depth and breadth of your role. It’s an opportunity to change how you live life. Do you want someone else directing your life?
If you’re so worried about your painstakingly crafted persona, you’ve got a problem. This life isn’t the synchronized ticking of a clock. It’s not the scientific method. It’s not a choreographed number. It’s creation from destruction; the beginning in the end; a roaring chuckle in an otherwise quiet room; the wailing moans of lost love; the knowing smile of shared secrets.
Don’t worry about never being enough. You were born into this life, making you part of every messy, inspiring, beautiful, tragic aspect. The stage is no place for excuses. When you falter and flounder in self-doubt, the world doesn’t want your reasons for not belonging. Don’t you dare waste your limelight on bullshit pretext.
Your rote rehearsal can burn like the Globe Theatre. Do you think Shakespeare and his players performed exactly the same every time? Hell, no! They acted. They didn’t wear their characters as protection from failure. Art imitates life, and if you’re truly living, then you’re defenseless.
You must keep your soul open to the possibility of success and failure simultaneously. Let the mere chance, and your faith in the unknown, bare you aloft until you become light of heart. Lay down your defense, and embrace your mistakes. Throw out your justifications of inadequacy and ignorance. Fuck pretense.