You’ve probably read or heard (as I have) all the really good advice about shedding your masks, being yourself, not pretending, being who you really are, etc…
I think…think! I have accomplished that in my life. I wrestled with identity issues and emerged victorious. I feel good in my skin. Being an introvert, I have even learned to accept it (I’m not really a label person, but in this case I use it sometimes) and acknowledge that’s who I am and I like it!!
I don’t like crowds. I don’t like busy schedules or tight deadlines or pressure of any kind. I don’t particularly like to be in new or unfamiliar situations. I like quiet and ease and open spaces. I like the familiar. And for the most part that’s the way I’ve created my life. I’ve learned (the hard way) that I need my downtime to re-charge and while socializing and being out in public can be an interesting and enjoyable experience in moderate doses, I still prefer my sweet stillness.
Having said all that, I had an interesting experience this weekend that changed my view a little. Being Halloween, I somewhat reluctantly donned a costume and assumed an assigned character role to take part in a Kidnapping Mystery Dinner Party that friends were putting on. (I say “reluctantly” not because of the people involved – most of who I know and am good friends with, but because of the unknown part – dressing up in a skimpy costume and acting the part of a nosy, know-it-all nurse!)
I have to say here that I believe my 25-year marriage has been successful because we each give and take—and it works for us. My husband respects my need to be alone and recharge, and I willingly accompany him to places and events where, on my own, I wouldn’t necessarily have been drawn to go.
So…here’s the twist. Ron and I actually reversed roles! I’m usually quiet at a party, talking to one or two people at a time – preferably someone I already know and am comfortable with in a quiet, meaningful conversation. Nevertheless, I’m often glad when the night is over and I can leave the loud, noisy space.
This time, however, I played the part of “Ima Pillgiver” a sexy outgoing nurse that knows absolutely everyone and makes it her business to know their business! I had specific questions to ask and information to discover as part of the game we were playing.
Ron on the other hand who is normally fun and outgoing at a party—likes to laugh and get to know everyone present—had to play the part of shy hula dancer. (Did I mention all the roles were women’s? The five men present were really good sports and we had lots of laughs at their expense!) He followed his script and played his part – so well in fact that I had to ask him later if he even had a good time, because he was soooo not himself.
Somehow, with the ‘mask’ in place I could play the part, be the extroverted character and actually have fun doing it. So what have I learned?
For me, it’s reinforced the idea that life is a game, that we are all really just playing parts and that the one we play the most is just the one we’ve practiced the most. I don’t have to reinvent myself—I really do like who I am. But I can step out once in a while, secure in who I am, and experiment—see how the other half lives, knowing that it’s simply a choice, just a game I’m playing.