We work on ourselves our whole lives. Well, most of us do. Some of us think we struck perfection and have been coasting on the same old hang-ups and flaws since then. But, for the rest of us for whom working on ourselves is a worthwhile endeavor, we trudge on through life’s miseries and try to grow from them. But even us, the people trying to become better people, are frauds.
That’s right. You, me, all of us: frauds. We build a persona, we shape who we want to be outwardly. That’s not us, that’s not who we were born. Babies, those vile and lazy creatures, are born without the burden of reputation or self-image. They simply are. They eat, drink, sleep, Tweet, and smoke cigarettes or whatever babies do in 2020. The point is, babies are the purest form of human being. There is no pretense, no room for it. I mean, sure, there has to have been a pretentious baby a few times over the course of history, likely Kelsey Grammar, but that’s immaterial.
I’d venture a guess that right around pre-school or kindergarten is where a child becomes aware that other children are vying for attention, and from that point on, they’re never the same. That’s when construction begins. We build ourselves into something, create a personality rather than develop one naturally. As children we’re trying to be something that will gain us some sort of social capital, however insignificant that may be for a child. We want to be the funny kid, the smart kid, the prettiest, the most popular, the toughest, or whatever other meaningless roles we assign importance to in early life.
The sad part is, that doesn’t end. In fact, it gets worse. We continue to manufacture some sort of “self” well into adulthood. We want to be the adult with answers to everything, the best looking, the most successful, the strongest, the richest, the wisest, and a host of other ridiculous distinctions. It’s only gotten worse with social media. Now adults, full-blown adults who are supposed to be more mature, find themselves taking to a given platform to inform everyone why they’re better, what they’re doing and why it’s great, what they read only moments ago but now espouse as a life philosophy, opinions on all manner of subjects — all of which we do in service of our persona, who we made ourselves into.
But we’re frauds, plain and simple. We’re constructions, we’re set-pieces, we’re con-artists. Everything we do outwardly to bolster our persona is a finely crafted lie. It’s almost sociopathic. We lie to the point that we believe it, and expect others to do the same. But this isn’t working on ourselves, this is just servicing our egos. The work of shedding these personas, these clever disguises, that’s the real work. I’ve posed this question before, but: what are you without it? What are you without your crutches, without your costume? What are you without what you told others you are? You’re a person, a vulnerable person. And that is where the beauty lies.
That’s why it’s so refreshing when you meet someone who doesn’t care what others think of them, or doesn’t care to tell you what they are. When a person doesn’t talk about themselves as though they’re impressed, that’s the good stuff. The best don’t tell you they’re the best, they just are. So, drop the act. Whatever you’ve wanted people to believe about you, cut it out. If it was real, you wouldn’t have to reinforce it. Shut it down and peel the layers. What you’ll find is the raw, red stuff of your core identity. That’s real, that’s beautiful.
You’re a fraud, isn’t that wonderful? Now that you know, you can begin again, but you won’t have to try so hard.