Rhetoric on an Alter Ego

While mindlessly scrolling on my phone one night, I was presented with an interesting video. It began with, “If you’re someone that craves change and wants to make the change, but somehow can’t because they feel uncomfortable or afraid… THIS ONE IS FOR YOU!” I’m a sucker for a good tagline, albeit a run-on one. So I watched. I watched the video three times, because I learned that you should always watch something at least twice if you want to absorb it fully. The concept is this: If you are the type of person who desires a change in their life and are paralyzed by otherwise crippling self doubt in pursuit of change, then you have to take yourself out of the equation. You are going to create an alter ego. Give your alter ego a name. Give them traits. Design what their exterior and interior worlds look like. All aspects are included: relationships, career, finances, physical/mental health, hobbies, etc. Think of it like creating the ultimate avatar that you can customize. Remember when everyone made those ridiculous bitmoji’s on Facebook and Snapchat? It’s like that, but in living color. Once you have this alter ego down to the smallest of details, you are then going to start assuming this identity. Start living your life like this individual. Dress how they would dress, eat how they would eat, and act how they would act. What would they do in their spare time? What would they do to better themselves? What would they be watching or reading? This is where things get really colorful: Imagine you are in a situation that you don’t know what to do or how to respond. You’re going to ask yourself, “What would __________ do?” Every time I read that sentence I instantly think, “What would Jesus do” because…Catholic school until I was 18. The video says to do this for a month straight, since it only takes 21 days to form a new routine or habit. The content creator says something brilliant at the end of this video, “You design other shoes and allow yourself to walk in them.” If you completely stop thinking about what ‘you’ would do, you can become a different person. When I was in college I took a Character Development theatrical class where we were given a list of about 100 questions to complete about a character in a play. What was their typical day like? What was their favorite breakfast food? Did they have any tattoos? What were some of their fears? I remember we all dreaded going through the character analysis packet, but it wound up being more than beneficial. At the end of the exercise, we had a living breathing character that was anything but two dimensional. Perhaps I could use this exercise once more in creating this alter ego?

I let my mind wander a bit while absorbing the message. Assuming an alter ego immediately reminded me of a book I read nearly 20 years ago. Jay Gatz transformed into Jay Gatsby and look at the influence he had on other people who believed his lies. To Jay, they weren’t lies. It was the persona he wanted to present to others in pursuit of his ultimate goal. Love. (Spoiler Alert) He was also killed in the end and nobody came to his funeral. Too bleak. Let’s rewind the story back to the beginning of his conscious decision to shed his prior poverty-stricken skin. Many films leap for some sort of makeover scene, where the character is transformed into an ascended state of being. Audiences love a good transformation: ugly to pretty, fat to thin, poor to rich, and weak to powerful. If we possess the tools to make such a transformation occur, what would we look like as a result? How unrecognizable would we be to others? How unfamiliar would we be to ourselves if we absorbed all of the character traits and abilities of our alter ago? That last question may be a trick one. Much like Billy Joel’s “The Stranger”, they may be merely sides of our self that have been kept well hidden from sight. That’s why the phrase, “You design other shoes and allow yourself to walk in them” sticks to me. You already have the shoes in your closet, but how often do you saunter around town in them?

Over the past 15 years, there has been a growing awareness in the phenomena of Impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubts their genuine skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. In a world that preaches about living an “authentic life”, where we are told to “speak our truth”, can the answers of self-discovery to be found within a willful act of deception? Using an illusion we create and curate to ascend to a higher state of living and reach our more true self? Will it still be an illusion if it manifests into reality? Will it still be a lie if we believe it? If it is a lie at all if we are believably playing the role we create for ourselves? If perception is reality, then in the eyes of society we are as we are perceived to be. Who else has heard the ubiquitous phrase, “Fake it till you make it?” What is the harm in doing the internal work to create an external change in our lives?

These are some very cerebral questions that I unfortunately cannot answer at the moment. I’m in the process of booking a Reiki retreat in Sedona in the autumn because I love to travel. I travel often. I love to fly. I always have the time as well as money to travel wherever I desire. I am so fortunate to meet such wonderful people along the way and have friends all over the globe. I’m also considering taking a horseback riding lesson while I’m there or perhaps I’ll visit the Painted Desert instead. Whatever Rebecca wants, Rebecca gets….

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