“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” - Oscar Wilde
We are obsessed with what is “real.”
“Let’s be real” “Let’s get real” “We’re real friends” “Made with real butter” “It’s the real me”
The search for something “real” amongst the ads, Tinder, and conversations of 140 characters feels impossible. Desperate, young hipsters leap into the arms of typewriters and Polaroid cameras as an attempt to connect with a perceived “simpler time” when the world made sense. We wear Ninja Turtle t-shirts and buy outlandishly expensive record players from Urban Outfitters because we are desperate for bygone days, but in our obsession of being real we have lost our ability to be appropriate. The concept of “real” vanishes the moment we reach for it. By the time we have come to understand our “real” selves, we have become someone else through the process. It is not about being “real” with everyone you come in contact with, it is about putting forward the best version of yourself at the right moment.
Being an “organic self” 100% of the time is as appropriate as taking non-organic food away from a starving person because it’s “bad for them.” Our dire need to be “real” at every moment can lead to poor life choices, such as not wearing shoes to a job interview or wearing ski caps when it’s 90 degrees outside. We need to embrace the different parts of ourselves so that we can equip ourselves for needs of our present circumstances. There is a time and a place for everything: bare feet belong in a living room not a boardroom.
I revere the truth. The ability to live truthfully in the full knowledge of oneself is a great gift—but it never happens. The modern perception of a “real” self is as true as a poster-print of a famous painting. It looks like the same thing, but some of the soul is missing—because a true self takes true vulnerability, not a record collection. We cannot possibility be vulnerable with everyone, we would not survive, so we must protect ourselves by being our best self at the proper moment. It’s like that silly old phrase, “where ever you go, there you are.” You can be a real you in every mask you wear. I am myself whether I am being “Confident Business Rachell,” “Freaked Out Writer Rachell,” “Brilliant Professor Rachell,” “Or Spell-Check Abusing Bumbling Idiot Rachell.” Each foot I put forward is mine. Each personality is a part of me. I choose the best me for the current circumstance. Be your best friend self with your best friend, not your boss.
I do not have everything together. My “most organic self” looks like a fizzy-haired maniac constantly on the brink of a break down or a break through. I talk too much. I am far too loud. Most of the time I think I’m an idiot, but when I head to a networking event or go to teach a class, another part of myself takes over--the charming part, the more confidant part, the part that remembered put on deodorant this morning. None of them is my “most organic” self, but they are all within me waiting to surface given the opportunity. I would not get to continue to do the work that I love as a professor and a playwright if I showed up as my “most organic self” to class or the theatre. It is not a lie. It is wisdom.
We must learn to embrace our different masks as a part of our one, true, and appropriate self.
Rachell Campbell has been a theatre professional in the Los Angeles area for nearly a decade. As a playwright, she tells the stories of women and brings to life historical heroes like Rosie the Riveter and Suffragettes. Her works have been published in the First Line Literary Magazine and produced by academic theatres such as UC Riverside, Life Pacific College, and Azusa Pacific University. She writes an annual children’s musical for the Azusa Renaissance Theatre and has developed theatre curriculums for a variety of educational programs. Rachell has participated in the literary office at South Coast Repertory for the last four years. There she was trained in the methods of dramaturgy and provided with opportunities to work as the production assistant to Theresa Rebeck, Zoe Kazan, Culture Clash, Rick Cleveland, Lauren Gunderson, etc. Rachell has observed playwrights transform their plays from good to extraordinary and brings this knowledge into her classrooms at Azusa Pacific University. Rachell is dedicated to creating art that exist for more than merely entertainment.
To stay up to date with Rachell's adventures, visit www.apenofherown.wordpress.com .