I dressed in drag and went out on the town in New York City.
I was very convincing as a man.
The shock was that people actually accepted me as a man (as long as I didn’t open my mouth!). People didn’t even look twice! “What?! Was I really fooling them?! Seriously?”
I had make up on that looked like pretty impressive stubble and goatee, a business suit, white shirt and black men’s shoes on. My hair was in a low “man” pony tail. And for those who know me, you’ll know I’m pretty tall and straight up and down. (I’ll see if I can post a photo tomorrow. Stay tuned!)
In the lift on the way out of the Ansonia on the Upper West Side, where I’d dressed and been made up, I found myself face-to-face with an actual man. Ooh. This was the most difficult part of the exercise – not erupting into out-of-control laughter! It just seemed so incredible to me that this person would actually accept me as being a man. (And to be fair, maybe he didn’t. But we are talking about New York here, where the ordinary can almost become the extraordinary.)
WHY DID I DO IT?
We were an all-female opera cast preparing for the American premiere of Vivaldi’s La Griselda, in which many of us would be performing pants roles (ie. male characters). Maeve Fiona Butler was the director, and this was all her (brilliant!) idea. The whole cast went out in New York as men, in broad daylight - which I found much more challenging than if it had been a bit darker and more forgiving on my stubble!
I headed out with the extraordinary singer and person, Lucy Tucker Yates, and being similar in taste, interests and habits, we found our way to Barnes & Noble. I think we visited a coffee shop and other destinations too, but my memory of the places we dropped in on is a little hazy. This was 20 years ago, after all!
THE EXPERIENCE WAS PROFOUND.
Yes, there were certainly moments of barely-contained hilarity, but I found it exhausting pretending to be something I wasn’t. I was used to inhabiting characters on stage, but not in real life. (Mind you, I know that for many people, drag is “them”. It’s expresses a natural part of who they are. It just wasn’t my experience.)
I felt like a fake, a fraud. I felt a burden of pretense. It was exhausting. I felt I couldn’t move as I would normally move. I couldn’t speak or express myself as I naturally would. It felt like a straight-jacket of sorts.
Along with feeling like a fake, comes a fear of being found out. There’s a sense of danger associated with it.
Some people feel like this their whole life. They live with the sense of being different in ‘reality’ – in what their inner experience is, in contrast to what they present to the outside world. They live a life of pretense. They live with the fear of being found out and rejected. It’s a dreadful burden to bear.
Do you know people who seem to present a different face to the world to what they themselves see in the mirror?
Do you know people who will never admit to or show their vulnerability or weakness?
Do you know people who always have to be right?
Do you know people who don’t let others get close, because they believe if you really know them, you won’t like them?
Are you one of those people?
It’s kind of like the façade that is social media. Most people (me included) post the good stuff! The beach scenes in the morning, photos of the dog and happy kids… Most of us don’t want to show the stuff that makes it clear that we have struggles just like everyone else. Of course, there are different motivations for what we post, but still… Just saying.
Just imagine there being no distinction between who you are and what you show to the world…
Imagine there being no friction between the two?
Imagine liking yourself and accepting yourself to the point where, really, what other people think simply doesn’t matter.
Nothing to hide.
Nothing to feel fearful of.
Nothing to be ashamed of.
Nothing to feel you have to deny about yourself…
Imagine really, really liking yourself.
Imagine needing no one else’s endorsement to know that you’re a good person, you’re an extraordinary person, exactly as you are, right here, right now?
How would that be? Ahhhhh…..
WE SNIFF IT OUT
We’re animals. We have instincts. We can tell when someone’s inauthentic, when they’re pretending to be something they’re not. Deep down we know. And deep down, there’s a niggling lack of trust. Things aren’t aligned. There’s a lack of harmony in their being. Not only that, but they can’t fully trust themselves.
Are you pretending to be OK when you’re not?
Are you pretending to be strong when you’re feeling weak and vulnerable?
Are you pretending to be happy, but crying inside?
It doesn’t have to be that way. Once you know you have nothing to hide, once you stop pretending everything’s ok, the burden of keeping up a façade crumbles. Then you can heal, knowing you are perfect just as you are, and realising that you are strong. You can be authentically, liquid chocolate happy! The strength and inner joy are right there. Everything you want to be and feel is right there, inside you. We just need to clear away the ‘stuff’ that’s hiding it.
Reach out if you need help. I’m here when you’re ready.
Remember – you deserve a great life.
You can book an obligation-free, complimentary 20-minute strategy session with me here.