Lost Among Europeans

<< Newer License to, um, drive?
Older >> Adventures in the rainforest


I didn’t do, nor will do, much of anything this weekend, so here goes another random post.

Now and then I have days in which I feel like an impostor. Everything seems arbitrary, and I don’t want to leave home, because every action I know I’m going to take, and everything I’m going to see, seems fake.

I’ve had days like these for a long time. I remember being a child and having days in which I didn’t want to go to school for this same feeling of artificiality. They have never bothered me, and on them, I have still gone to school, or parties, or work, and behaved as usual.

I sometimes wondered if it was natural to have these days, but I think the funny thing is not having them all the time. It is a very artificial world, after all. Why do bacteria exist? Why do we drive around in cars? Why do we make friends and enemies? All very arbitrary, especially for an atheist like me.

Then I think of other people, and wonder if they feel like impostors. Most of them should, because they are. The more strongly people try to convey their role, the more I think they’re pretending.

Here are some things that tend to arise suspicion in me:

  • Saying “I love my job” - what, isn’t liking your job good enough?

  • Giving “110%” or being “Passionate, dedicated” - means you’re trying too hard to convince others of your authenticity.

  • Displaying “vision” and being “vocal” in meetings - probably you’re reenacting some fantasy or wishful thinking.

  • Talking about “culture”, or “the establishment”, or “creativity”, or being a “connoisseur” of any subject - did you ever dream you would become such a phony?

  • Saying you don’t care what other people think.

I know, I know, we are all playing our roles, it’s just that the more people try to stand out and distinguish themselves, the more I think they’re clones.

I remember, apropos of nothing, a funny anecdote. A couple of years ago I went to my friends Mai and Ken’s house for a barbequeue. I ran into Andrea there, whom I hadn’t seen in a long while. We started discussing films, as we often do, and I commented I had enjoyed The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. SpongeBob is a children’s cartoon that has a quirky humor I like, and a bad reputation among adults. An older man in the party realized we were talking about film and joined our conversation. He had recently seem some art-house film, which probably Andrea and I weren’t too impressed with. Then he inquired about the film we were talking of. “Oh, SpongeBob. Hum”. He invited me to elaborate, probably trying to puncture my ego, but little did he know me: I regaled him with a detailed narration of how SpongeBob and his friend Patrick go on a journey to find King Neptune’s crown, and save the life of their boss, Mr. Krabs, whom King Neptune thinks has stolen the crown. The man listened condescendingly, and probably concluded I was an idiot. I wonder if he realized Andrea and I were having a laugh at his expense.

The point of this digression is that it is easy to become stuck in roles, like being a film expert, a wine expert, a traveler, a bum, a whatever. The people I like most are the ones who don’t fully believe the roles they are playing. After all, who do we think we are, ey?