Dropping the Façade: Pretending is for Kids

Growing up, playing pretend was fun.

I would wrap up in a sheet and pretend I was Mary Magdalene. My sister and I would put on a show for our dolls and pretend we were famous singers. We had imaginary friends (and pets) whom we played with until one of us forgot we were playing and sat on the dog and “killed it”.

Pretending let me enter a world that did not exist, but at that time, in that moment, it was real. And it was fun.

As I’ve gotten older, I realized that, though I’m not putting a pillowcase on my head and pretending I’m a bride or jumping off the backs of couches pretending that I’m flying, in some ways I’m still pretending. But this time, it’s not fun.

We’ve all heard the term “fake it until you make it”. I’m not sold on that motto. Faking it until making it is what causes some people to buy things they can’t afford in order to impress people they don’t even like.  There are certain situations where “faking it until you make it” is ideal, but overall I’ve found it to be detrimental and my pretending only ended up hurting me.

When we were kids, we pretended because we were bored or because we had wild imaginations. Now, I think people pretend for the sake of pride or to appease other people.

I’ve decided I’m not interested in pretending anymore….not for any reason. Pride is a prison and appeasing other people is a trap and a vicious cycle that is very hard to break out of.

This is especially true when it comes to me, men and relationships.

I used to be a big pretender. Always acting like I don’t care. I would never admit I liked a guy. And if I was in a relationship (real or pseudo), I was unfazed by unreturned calls, rude behavior and even cheating. I would lament to my girls about it, but when it came to him, I was like “whatever”. [I think Beyonce said it best in her song Broken-Hearted Girl: “There’s something that I feel I need to say, but up until now, I’ve always been afraid that you would never come around. But still I’ve gotta put this out.”] There were some things I had to put out, but for the most part I came off as stone inside cause I “didn’t care”.

Well now, I’ve decided to lose the façade.

The only way to save myself is to be myself.

Because you know what happens when you pretend like that? People do some really disrespectful things. Not because they are evil or they want to hurt you, but because your pretending has worked so well, they truly think you don’t care.

But I do care. I’m a person. I have a heart. I have feelings. I care.

It’s no one’s responsibility to babysit my feelings or demand of themselves to respect me. However, it is my responsibility to make sure that I am checking my motives at the door, not pretending to be fine with things I’m not, and not enduring self-inflicted wounds by voluntarily placing myself in hurtful situations.

Even emotional cutters have to put down the blade at some point.

I’m not going to pretend to be stoic, emotionless and unmoved. I can like a man (and be liked by a man) without having to pretend for him. Why live in a prison of my making? For him? So he’s not uncomfortable? So he doesn’t feel bad? So he doesn’t get mad at me and not like me as a person? Forget that. I’m not going to pretend to be okay when I’m not. I may be wrong, but I’m going to be real.

It’s not about being sad, bitter, angry or spiteful. Not at all. It’s about being free. (Who knew a façade could be suffocating?) It’s about having respect for myself and acknowledging my own feelings and knowing that it’s okay to have emotion and that it’s okay to care. It’s about realizing that forgiving someone doesn’t mean pretending they didn’t hurt me or that their actions did not affect me. [That’s not forgiveness that’s foolishness.]

And mainly, it’s about respect. It’s hard to find respect for myself underneath all that pretend. The truth is, when other people don’t respect me and I’m pretending that disrespect is okay, then it’s really difficult to respect myself. But when I know I’m being true to myself and others, when I know I’m not allowing people to walk on me just so I can hold onto my pride and their good thoughts toward me, I find respect for myself where it did not exist before.

And that makes me wish I would have dropped the façade a long time ago.

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4 thoughts on “Dropping the Façade: Pretending is for Kids

  1. A. R. says:

    Hey Allissa:

    This is a good read and an important step forward in self-realization. Many (including myself) pretended because they felt comfortable in their made-up world and the way others respond to it. I found it a lazy way of dealing with things. Some make a business out of it (insider). But what I have noticed is that at the end of the day I would feel lonely and want someone to talk to that ‘knew me’ but was not able to because I was too nervous of what to be real.

    Like

  2. Drue says:

    Hey Alissa, I just wanted to say this post really resonated with me. For what seems like most of my life, I have adopted a facade too. I donned (and still do sometimes) various masks in response to the people around me. I become whatever they need me to be and as such, lose sight of me and who I am as a person. I seem to have so many different “me’s” that I have a hard time figuring out which one is the real me. It’s exhausting putting everyone else’s needs and wants before my own. I also am tired of pretending I don’t care, that all these people’s disrespect and mistreatment doesn’t bother me. Of course it bothers me! But what I really wanted to get at was that you’re so right: “Pride is a prison and appeasing other people is a trap and a vicious cycle that is very hard to break out of.” I can’t live my whole life trying to please other people in the hopes that they will try to please me and thus make me happy. It’s a recipe for disaster. I am the only person who can truly please me and I can’t please and love myself if I don’t respect myself. And like you said, it is hard to find self-respect underneath all that pretending. So I’m also done with pretending. I have made a few tentative steps in that direction and while it has been pretty painful, I’m proud of my progress and look forward to more. I refuse to go back to hiding behind my masks in order to appease everyone else and maintain the status quo. That’s not living. So Carpe Diem and Viva la Vida!

    P.S: Thank you so much for sharing your experience and feelings. It really helps to know I’m not alone in this struggle.

    Like

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