“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut
The only thing I really remember about being a sophomore in high school was how awful it was.
As a shy, chubby, insecure teenager, I longed to fit in with the popular crowd. And so I tried to “be” just like them.
I tried to talk the way they did, walk the way they did and even behave the way they did – all in an attempt to be “ordinary” rather than bullied and picked on for being different.
The only problem with my game of pretend? That wasn’t me. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, all it really did was make me stand out even more.
I remember a classmate of mine, who had befriended me earlier the previous year, saying, “I liked you better the way you were before.” Words no one ever really wants to hear, but hearing them was truly one of those “ah-ha” moments in my life.
It’s easy to think the situation I describe above is limited to teenagers and the pressures of high school. But in reality it exists everywhere and is still based on a fundamental need to simply “fit it” to society.
What’s unfortunate is how many of us are truly “pretending” to be something we’re not in a society whose definition of a person’s character has more to do with designer labels and popular music than anything else.
Even though I’m 40 years old, there are still times when I find myself trying to “fit in” to a conversation at work. But then I remind myself of what that fellow classmate once said to me. It reminds me that we’re all unique and we should appreciate and respect that uniqueness no matter what the circumstance.
A.A. Milne once wrote, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Never pretend to be anything more than yourself. You’re pretty great just the way you are.