Costumes

She waved her hands in the air to cut me off. “Yeah, you meet all of your obligations; you do all of the things a responsible adult is supposed to do. You know, intellectually, you’re a grown-up, but you don’t move through the world like you know you’re a grown-up.”

And then we both just sat there. I didn’t know what to say. She was right. I could feel it in my bones. But what does that even mean? How does one “move through the world like you know you’re a grown-up?” I was still preoccupied with that question when I came home.

I told him what she told me, and he reacted more strongly than I would have imagined. “Yeah, that’s my problem too! That sums it up. But how do we do that? What do we change?” We went about our evening. We went to bed. We were still bewildered.

I’m still thinking about it. If he feels the same way, then surely we’re not alone. I watched the people in my life. You know what? A lot of us wear costumes we don’t need to wear. I think we’ve been wearing them so long, we don’t realize we can take them off. We don’t even realize we’re wearing them anymore.

There’s that saying that works so well for so many of us. “Fake it ’til you make it.” We all do it. It’s incredibly useful when you’re trying to make a change. What I’ve noticed it that many of us don’t seem to realize that we’ve actually made it. We don’t need to fake it anymore. Somewhere in our heads and hearts we hold on to that hesitancy that was understandable and healthy when we were faking it, but keeps us from “moving through the world like we know who we are” when the faking it part is over.

So this Halloween, I invite you to look underneath your costume and see who you are. Do you still need that costume, or was it just the armor you needed to become who you are?

To my beautiful friend who takes such care with her appearance, and yet swats away any and all compliments, you are beautiful.

To my caring friend who listens with patience to the trials and tribulations of everyone she knows, and who celebrates the successes of those same people as much or more than her own, and yet believes the love her friends and family return is just luck, you are loved because you are loving.

To my smart and funny friend who is always quick with the clever retort, and yet is still afraid that others might be laughing at him and not with him, you are smart and funny.

And to all of us middle-aged grown-ups who still believe that someone might catch on to the idea that we’re just faking it, that we don’t know what we’re doing, we’ve grown up. We can take off the costume.

I’m still not quite sure how to do that. I’m still figuring it out. Happy Halloween.

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