In high school my best friend Liz and I were a little strange. We were the kids who didn’t really talk to anyone, we were the kids who wore strange outfits (plaid wedges for me, yellow rain jacket for her), we were the kids who nicknamed our group after a dad show (the Possum Posse from the Red Green Show). We were also the kids the wildest imaginations, and who were always busy creating a magic land of make-believe. Sure, most of the kids in our school thought we were nuts (and in retrospect we probably were a bit too much to handle), but we were happy living with dual personalities because it gave us a means of escaping the banalities of petty high school drama and gave us something interesting to do on our lunch hours.
Creating a persona who was the opposite of who we were in reality was a means for us to explore different lifestyles. By creating stories about our characters we could experience adventure, magic, strange creatures, faraway lands, and most of all, love. Our characters were the brave, strong, independent women (who always got the guy) that we both hoped to become someday. Both of us were pretty shy when it came to being social in high school, but seeing our alter-egos do things we were never able to in real life laid the groundwork for becoming the slightly more outgoing people we are today. Neither of us is the most popular girl in school now of course, but Liz has managed to swing herself a pretty awesome boyfriend, and moving across the country didn’t really phase me, so we must be getting somewhere.
The key to having an alter-ego is to know when to turn it off. They may be an inspiration, and they can push us to do things we wouldn’t normally do, but they are essentially a secret part of our lives. Doing things that are crazy all the time can get you into trouble if you indulge too often, but if applied with a careful touch can add a sense of mystery to your personality and lead to some fun adventures. My rule of thumb is always: be crazy and uninhibited with your friends, but not your boss. If it could have repercussions in the wider range of your life think twice, and keep those leather thigh-high boots in the closet. Putting on an alter-ego is much like putting on that crazy outfit that’s hidden in the back of your closet. We all have one, whether it’s that ball gown we picked up at a thrift store “just because,” that pair of ridiculously neon pumps that make any outfit a party, or that fashion forward trench coat that we’re not quite mature enough to wear. Putting on that crazy piece of clothing changes how we see ourselves, and changes how we interact with the world in much the same way that adopting an entire alter-ego can. It can be a fun experience, or we can be left feeling slightly ridiculous.
But what’s the fun in always playing it safe? Go ahead and do something you wouldn’t this week, and blame it on your “other self.” You never know who you’ll meet, and it might just be me, out doing the exact same crazy thing!