Imagine versus Pretend


Socrates ©Musei Capitolini

“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.”
― Socrates

I had an epiphany only yesterday. I realised that I’m not good at pretending and that pretending and imagination are not the same thing. I always associated having an imagination with the world of pretend. But it’s not. The two are completely different concepts. I hadn’t really thought about it until now.

Pretend: to behave or to make appear something that is not true. (Isn’t it just another way of saying lying?)
Imagining:  forming a mental image or concept, or assuming or supposing

The world of pretend and the world of imagination sounded like the same place for me. You hear the expression, “fake it until you make it”, which is really a modern take on Socrates’ quote. I can form an image but I cannot pretend. I always wondered why I was unable to follow this concept no matter how hard I tried. I felt like a failure with each attempt to be someone I am not. The logical part of me will not accept falseness. It rejects it. It is like an immune system rejecting a virus. I cannot accept it. I cannot do it.

I now know that my fantasy dream of being an actor is just that, a fantasy. Of course I would loathe people staring at me the entire time plus I would hate to pretend to be someone else. However the empathy side would be easy. I could relate to the character as that requires an imagination. The dressing in other people’s clothes wouldn’t be half bad either. I will continue to enjoy being the audience.

I also know why I have performed so poorly during job interviews. One excruciating one was an impromptu one arranged by a friend many years ago. They thought they were being helpful. I didn’t have any interview clothes so I had to go out and buy new ones. Different city, different country. I couldn’t get my size in anything so I had to wear men’s clothes, shoes, the lot. I felt so uncomfortable before I walked through the door. I was nervous and stiff. I was not myself. I was trying to pretend to be somebody I was not. I tried to be somebody else. It was like “the pretend switch” was turned on and the circuit board wasn’t soldered correctly and it kept short circuiting. I didn’t pull it off. The entire process was torture. I didn’t get the job. I wouldn’t have hired me either.

I believe people should be hired on their actions rather than what they can say. The system is wrong. Some people are excellent at pretending but lack imagination and action. Of course it depends on the job. Some jobs are all about pretending. And all I can say is good luck to them. I will not be competing. Create your own job. Create your own niche.

“There’s a difference between playing and playing games. The former is an act of joy, the latter — an act.”
― Vera Nazarian

I am excellent at and enjoy playing, but I detest and am poor at playing games. I am a straight talker usually. I know I hold my tongue sometimes because I have been burnt with the results. I also have learnt to soften my words at times. Other times I just don’t join the conversation. I know I am occasionally blunt which can come across as rude. I remove myself from those I don’t wish to communicate. Other times I forget to reengage with people. Laziness perhaps. Other times we just out grow our peers. Life is too short. Why should I try to convince someone. Discovering for yourself is the best way to learn. Okay not always but the lessons self learnt will be retained better. We learn and grow right up to the time we die. Who says we stop when school finishes.  The mind must keep moving or it goes moldy.

“Pretending is such a hard game to play sometimes.”
― Bushra Khanum

Pretending may be a hard game but how about trying to pretend to pretend, exhausting. Pretending to be fine. Pretending to be average. Pretending to be normal. And I have no idea what that means.
These days I am me. I’m good with that.

Pretend – Nat King Cole