The Pretenders

When we’re little, our worlds are full of the magic of make-believe.  From the fairytales of far far away, to the Disney dream of Never Land to playing house with your best friend, we grow up in a world of imagination.  For many kids, pretending is a time of enchantment, of magic-in-the-making, but for me, an ever-serious and precocious child, play time was too silly and even a little ridiculous for me.  I usually opted to paint my nails (yes, I mastered this art at four) or make clothes for Barbie, instead of actually playing with Barbie.  And after all, she was dating a man with an imaginative bump for a package… where was the fun in that?

Immediately following high school, I went to college to obtain a degree in fashion.  During my first college experience (I am now currently on my second degree), I was constantly asked to draw up a business plan.  The directions would go like something as follows: Pretend you are an entrepreneur starting up a new business.  That word again: pretend.  How I hated this word.  After creating my upteenth business plan, I threw my hands up in the air.  “I can’t play make-believe,” I yelled to my classmates in frustration.  I was seething.  I mean, wasn’t this experience supposed to prepare me for the real world?  I felt as if I were five and expected to play the role of the fairy princess.  While I graduated top of my class, I still felt the annoying glimmer of fairy dust on my gown.

Now, nearly four years later, I still feel as if I’m stuck in Oz and hoping my ruby stilettos will take me home, to the reality of life.  But it wasn’t until recently that I realized: I’m not stuck in Alice’s rabbit hole or Never Land, others are.  And they keep hoping I will excitedly join in their game of playing make-believe. 

What they fail to realize is I’m not four or five anymore, and I’m not sure I really ever was.  I was always three going on thirty and loved to be surrounded by adults rather than seated at the shorter kids table.  I don’t have it in me to be fake.  Sure, I may rock a vintage Louis replica or long extensions, but a weave and a plastic bag are as far as I venture into the land of Fake.  My truth is my soul, my salvation and without it, I’m as confused as one of the Lost Boys.

But lately, I look around and feel as if everyone is on the fake.  Some outright lie to hurt, others protect the truth to protect my feelings and some find it amusing to pull my heartstrings into their lost childhood games.  Some have heartfelt intentions, others are out to destroy and all forget the power I carry within my voice.   As Maya Angelou wrote, “When someone shows you who they are believe them,” and some people around me forget that seeing truly is believing.

I hold nothing closer to my heart than my friends.  They are my extended family, my shoulders to cry on and they put the belly in my belly laughs.  I have been blessed with a close circle of amazing friends and a supportive family.  But lately, some individuals have entered my life under false pretenses and under the guise of “friends.” 

I have been burdened with an innate need to please everyone and when I find out someone doesn’t like me, my heart falls.  I am the Golden Girl who bakes a cake and overly compensates to make the one person in the world who dislikes her love her in the end.  I am beginning to realize, however that some people will never appreciate the strength of my voice or the truth of my words and thank God for these people.  Everyone enters your life to show you something and such pretenders have made me realize how much I value a person’s truth.  One’s truth will always set her free and what she does in the dark will always come out in the light – this is the guarantee of life. 

We all write our own stories of life and each person will decide whether to make hers an epic, a tragedy or a drama.  I am closing the book of fairy tales in my life and reserving those for the children I hope to have someday.  It’s OK to be imaginative and play pretend as a child.  But as an adult, I am choosing my own story and it doesn’t include make-believe characters.  Maybe some people will never outgrow the world of pretending and childhood games.  Maybe some will be the Lost Boys forever. But my reality is more beautiful than any make-believe scene and that reality is where I choose to be.

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