Sometimes I fantasize about living in 1920’s Paris and hanging out with writers and artists, and never letting them know I’m really a geek from the future. It’s not much as secret identities go, but the notion amuses me.
Here’s the truth though, most days, I feel like I’m wearing a mask, that the real me is this tiny, insignificant, boring person, and I just pretend to be interesting or funny or cool. I can pretend to be outgoing, but mostly, I’m shy. I can fake being vivacious, but really I’m a quiet bookworm, and most days my tolerance for other people is pretty low. Well, for stupid people, anyway.
But then I have this other self, too. And if it sounds like I’ve got a case of MPD, I don’t, any more than any other writer or improv performer or other creative type of person. Just like I’m not clinically bipolar, though sometimes I feel that way, at least artistically.
But I digress.
Along with Shy Melissa there’s a part of me called Super Mel! (the exclamation point is obligatory, in this case.) Super Mel! has no fear, and dives into new situations without pausing to think about what the consequences might be. Oh, there’s an audition for CSz? Sure, why not? Oh, you’re going to write a novella in 35 days and submit it to a contest? Of course you are. Oh, you’re going to quit your job at BigFinancialCompany because it makes you cry? Go for it. Super Mel! is the part of me who knows – just knows intrinsically – that Everything Will Be Okay.
Shy Melissa sometimes doesn’t even want to be the person who orders pizza, but Super Mel! does the taxes in five minutes flat, and gets money back, despite being self-employed and not paying quarterly installments. Shy Melissa freaks out when it’s the end of a show and it’s time to play 185 – because what if she’s WRONG? but Super Mel! gets in trouble for not letting the other team’s players jump out first.
I know I’m not alone in this. That others have different aspects of self, as well. I think it’s normal, actually, that we adapt our personalities to whatever situation we happen to be in. The trick is in not letting the shy squeamish part rule. And I have been, for far too long.
And it stops.