I live the real world. It is glorious. It is messy. It is hopeful. It is oppressive. But it is real. But … we are all also characters in an Unreal World too. A world where the sun always shines, lives are perfect and every damn person has good news to share. It is aspirational, but it also a big, fat lie. Yet we believe. We hold our lives against this mythical world that only exists in our social media feeds, television shows and the movies. We discover our lives don’t compare and believe we’re not enough or unworthy or doing something wrong. We lie about how perfect our lives are as we stand hip-deep in caca. No more. It’s time to get real, people.
Drawing A Real Line in the Sand
As the fog from my depression started to lift and I reemerged from underneath it, I realized a few truths:
- I felt like a fraud because I was one.
- I didn’t really know me.
- I was tired of pretending.
There was a large part of me that wanted to sink back into numbness and forget. It was tempting, so tempting, to let the abyss reclaim me, but a tiny part of me said no. She wanted her Beyonce moment, a victorious fist pump and was ready to draw the line in the sand.
This transformation didn’t happen overnight, but I see her now when I look into the mirror. She is me. And I don’t hate her. In fact, I kinda like her. Cuz she’s real.
A Stranger to Myself
Almost all of the truths I discovered through my depression fall under this banner: I was pretending — an actress with her very own fake reality show. I played a version of me that seemed right in an Unreal World. I was annoyingly cheerful. A yes-woman who liked what you liked. Who wanted what you wanted.
But inside — there was a different Tanya. But I never let her out. She was too feral and didn’t want to play along in this fake world with its fake people and its fake happiness.
I often felt lost because I had lost sight of the real me and what I wanted out of life. I felt fake because I was wearing another person’s skin, living in a Stepford World. It’s time to shed my old skin, that was never really mine, and live in the real world as me with all my glorious imperfections, flaws and also very real dreams, hopes and aspirations.
Meet the Real Tanya
Like Popeye said, “I am who I am” and this is who I am.
- I am short. Really short. And I can still wear kids shoes. This is particularly nice when it comes to buying sneakers, although I have to be careful they don’t have the Frozen characters on them. To be completely real, I also rarely buy sneakers because I hate exercising and I’m more of a flip-flop kind of girl. My toes demand FREEDOM!
- I love to laugh. It’s one of my favorite things to do. And I like low-brow humor. Dumb and Dumber? Loved it. Laughed until my stomach hurt (I blame my Dad for this).
- I believe ALL cats love me. I bear scars that prove otherwise but I still believe.
- My first cat was named Mama Cat who became Grandma Cat when her babies had babies. Eventually, I gave up on being accurate because it was too confusing.
- I am a fast reader. I also used to read the endings first, just to make sure I liked how it ended. I have mostly stopped doing this.
- I love food, except for Thai food and sometimes sushi. I particularly love eating at Mom and Pop restaurants.
- I am Korean and can barely use chopsticks. I get weird looks at Asian restaurants when I ask for a fork, but it’s all fun and games until my flying chopstick accidentally pokes you in the eye.
- I used to run to my parents’ bedroom in between claps of booming thunder during storms. My dad would shout, “slow down”. I never did.
- I dream about being a writer, but I’m scared to try. Maybe I’ll be amazing. Maybe I’ll be awful. Both scare me.
- When I told people I wanted to be a writer, they thought I should aim for Oprah’s book club. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the books inside me probably weren’t literature with a capital L.
- At some point, I decided crying was weak and took great pride in the fact that I never cried. I was wrong.
- I am kind, cheerful, funny, smart, sarcastic, moody, sad, angry, envious, hopeful, loving, lonely, sensitive, ashamed, optimistic and a dreamer trying to be more of a doer.
- I am trying to get healthy. It is a work in progress, especially for someone who tries to get out of exercising because her big toe hurts.
- I intensely dislike reality shows because they show a false reality and standard that people strive to emulate and will never be able to meet.
- Traveling is not really a big passion of mine, but I’d like to visit Italy and eat my way through it. I imagine buying one ticket to go there and two tickets for the return trip because I will take-up two seats. Hey, it’s all carbs there (or at least it would be for me).
- I also want to drink coffee and eat a chocolate croissant at a sidewalk cafe in Paris while I pretend to write my book. I would look very chic in my boldly printed scarf and wear Chanel No 5. To be fair, I could do this in California, but it wouldn’t be as cool.
- I also realize that my travel dreams all involve food. I’m okay with this.
- I am scared of heights. Getting on a step-ladder makes me nervous but I love flying.
- I get car sick when I am not the driver; I get lost whenever I drive somewhere new.
- My apartment is a mess. I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth this morning, and I’m only 95% sure that I put on clean underwear. Also I really need to do some laundry because I am running out of clean underwear.
- I am vindictive, cruel, selfish, judgmental, funny, protective, strong and sincere.
- I have at least 6 white hairs and my hair is thinning. This makes me very unhappy.
- I am closing in on 41 years. I’m okay with this. Mostly.
- I have been subjected to blatant racism and prejudice. It has shocked me every time because I was unprepared. I don’t understand why the color of my skin or the shape of my eyes matters.
- My hands, feet and ears are small. My belly, thighs and butt are not. I’m working on this.
- I am a very private person, and blogging goes against my very nature to internalize everything. I also crave connection and want to stop pretending everything is perfect. Because it’s not and that’s okay.
- I believe in love. I haven’t found it yet but will some day.
- I look at the world through rose-tinted glasses and sometimes believe in six impossible things before breakfast. Bonus points if you know who I borrowed this from and also believe in the impossible.
- I am a naive, sheltered, spoiled, generous, creative, a free spirit, sly, manipulative, sweet, humble and shy.
- I believe in feeling passionate about what you do, wholehearted living and being real.
The Oscar in the Unreal World Goes to …
Me. For my fabulous portrayal of unreal me. I captured my essence so well. A truly breath-taking performance of amazing caliber … and that’s a bunch of crap. I somehow managed to mold myself into a square that got squeezed into a circle. While I’ve managed to break free of the chains that held me back and down, there is still much work to be done.
Now I need to undo all the kinks, including all the false beliefs I’ve held for so long about myself and the world at-large, and remake myself. The above list is a good start at defining me, but it is only the beginning. Now the hard part begins … figuring out who I really am and what I’m truly made of.
It’s also kind of exciting.
I told you who I am, so now it’s your turn to tell me something about yourself. Were you ever stuck living in the Unreal World? How did you get out?