There is a girl I ‘know’ online, she’s a twenty-something artist and a writer and suffers from crippling social anxiety and it struck me, when I heard she suffered from social anxiety, that it was a great irony.
Why? Because I had concluded that with my own social anxiety, I would be ‘able’ to do a live poetry reading if I could somehow inhabit someone like her, change skins, climb into her person-suit and read the poetry through her eyes.
So obviously the next thought was … that’s really weird. Why would you be able to read your poetry aloud in front of people if you were her but not if you were you? The conclusion must have something to do with self-hatred on some level, but it’s also about what you want to project.
Sad to admit, I don’t want to project me. I want to project someone like a photographer may appreciate and project through that appreciation the beauty of someone else. I’m a behind-the-scenes type. I didn’t used to be, I was the belly dancer at the front of the school play, but the difference was, I still wore a mask. That time the mask was dark paint, a wig and a veil.
Some of us need veils or metaphoric veils or some type of guise to be ourselves. For me it used to be a few drinks – dutch courage. I didn’t even know it, but before going out I would swig a bit and then I could go through with it. Not a good method. When the ulcer nixed that option, I retreated further than I thought possible, unable to face going out without my mask.
I see others, people who are not attractive, people who are silly, people who are absurd, do it all the time, and I admire them and wonder, how is it that they can do this and I cannot? I’m not certain of anything other than, when you feel this way, it’s like you are under a microscope, on a petri-dish and everyone who looks your way is shining a light on you and you can’t stand the inspection.
It is an illusion or delusion of course, because people see individuals less and less these days than ever before! We truly can walk around and be invisible and ignored! But when you feel that scrutiny it’s like sunburn, you just have to get out of the sun even when it’s not really happening it feels like it is!
A few of my friends, normal, not overly attractive people, can stand up there and do anything and everything. They are admired because they appear to have no fear or they feel the fear and do it anyway. I despise my inability to do this, but I do not despise it in others, I understand it in others, I have empathy for it in others, so despising myself is another point of hypocrisy.
Any delusion is hypocritical. A feminist may starve herself because she sees a ‘fat girl’ in the mirror, who does not exist, and despite believing it doesn’t matter what you weigh, she’s caught up in it nevertheless. It’s like being hypnotized. If you take anxiety meds you are released from them, but it’s artificial. I have yet to find a ‘natural’ method, though much is made of natural cures, none have worked thus far.
All I’m really saying by this, is, how interesting to imagine, just by being someone else we could be ourselves. I think of those robot or clone films where people are asleep and send out their robot version. How much I dislike that idea of living and life, how I don’t like the idea of women behind veils, and yet, when I think of standing up and reading my work I want to put on the dragon suit I had as a little kid so badly. I want to wear it underneath myself (my true dragon self) as I did when I was a kid, and the teacher would pull out the tail and say ‘she’s done it again’ and call my dad.
I am you see, a dragon, and I want to be a dragon, and if I cannot be a dragon I would like to be my friend who looks a little like Jennifer Beal whom I liked very much in Flashdance and it’s not a creepy reason at all because I don’t fancy my friend, but I would be able to read my poetry out loud if I had her curly hair and brown skin. Ironically she is more scared than I am, and if I ever met her off WP I would say ‘what an irony, you are too scared to be you and I am too scared to be me, shall we be dragons?’