b3ta.com user thecurriedavenger
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23, male, Indian-born Kiwi, Uni student.

Been on B3ta since 2003 :D

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» Faking it

Fake it till you make it
I finished my uni classes for the day yesterday and went home where I could enjoy some much-needed downtime with a bottle of beer and B3ta. Whilst re-reading the QOTW I had an epiphany, and a strange thought began to surface from somewhere in the depths of my exhausted mind. Soon enough I began to ponder quietly as I was sipping on my beer. As the QOTW says, we’ve all played “let’s pretend” at some point. I think it unlikely, however, that most people realise the extent to which some of us have done so.

Some people, for example, portray an image of themselves which is entirely inconsistent with their thoughts or feelings (what they may consider their actual “personality”) on daily basis. To a degree this can be called acting, but the negative connotations of putting on an “act” in a social environment could belie the genuine reason for doing so.

Sounds daft, I know, but stick with me for a moment. I was one of these people for…well…the majority of my life and (maybe) I can offer a little insight into why some people choose to do this.

Growing up isn’t easy for many people. Every household/family/environment (call it what you wish) is unique. Mine involved a sister, my Mum and my Dad. Dad had been an abusive alcoholic since before I was born and my family had suffered for it in several ways. My mother and sister were emotionally abused, and I was both emotionally and physically punished since my father took a particular dislike to my disobedience in what he was determined was “his” house.

The environment I was living in was reflected in my behaviour and my thoughts when I was at home. I didn’t talk much, was tentatively on-edge and also took to comfort eating in my teens (went from a 6-pack to overweight in a matter of months once I began. Yes, it happens to guys too). This wasn’t just behaviour conditional to my Dad being at home, either. I felt like this ALL the time at home, regardless of Dad’s presence.

While I won’t go into any details suffice to say that years of emotional abuse has a profound effect on a person’s mind and development. My mother and sister developed serious clinical depression, as did my father (I never did figure out whether the depression – a chemical imbalance in the brain – was the cause or the result of it). The problem was that it was years until this was actually diagnosed – I was 16 when my mother and father attempted suicide (6 weeks apart from each other. Both failed) and were admitted to a psychiatric ward in the nearby hospital for examination and rehabilitation. They were put on anti-depressants, given counselling, and eventually came home, whence a cycle of home-rehab-home-rehab began for each of them (out of synch, too).

Of course, nobody on the outside had a clue what home life was like. Not my friends, not the neighbours, or the people that my parents associated with.


We were all pretending. Each of us was…well…”different” when we were in the company of “outsiders”. You know how when a group of people behave differently within their social circle when somebody new is introduced? It was similar, but very exaggerated. Our whole demeanour changed not only as a family, but as individuals (I hope I’m making some sort of sense here).

I went from my quiet, moody, angry and nervous home-self to flamboyant as soon as I spoke to the first outsider, whether it was at school, work or the sport teams my Dad allowed me in. I noticed it in my sister as well. The tentative glance my sister and I made toward each other each morning as each of us parted ways at the school gate, watching the other talk to their respective friends and seeing them smile for the first time since getting home the previous day is a moment no words can describe. That’s when I suppose we felt we were out of the woods and could begin our lives that existed away from home.

And so the days went by. I found reasons to laugh and joke, and tell myself to think happy thoughts so the fear of what was waiting for me at home wouldn’t get to me. I pretended I was OK. I pretended I was happy. I pretended that the occasional fat lip or bruised arms and legs were from carpentry/sport/fighting. I pretended that I wasn’t who I was or what I was. I did this until I moved out of home so I could go to a university in a different city.

I moved into a flat with other first-years and soon enough the happy façade began to crumble. I began having mood swings and thinking unusually violent thoughts. I couldn’t keep up this “act” of being a well-adjusted happy individual 24/7. However, I convinced myself that it was a just a passing thing that I would grow out of, though deep down I knew I was in denial. Around this time my sister decided to make an attempt at suicide herself, and *thankfully* was saved by a friend that made sure she received the appropriate treatment as I was no longer around (a fact which still wracks me with guilt).

A year later I was much wiser (relatively, anyway) and chose to open up a bit so I could try and BE happy instead of just ACTING it. I was living in a different flat with different flatmates which were kept at arms distance. I decided to try being more open and began by eventually confiding in a close friend why I might be behaving unusually, and related my home-history to her. This turned out to be a big mistake. She went ahead and told our mutual friends what I told her, in great detail. I was mad as hell.

However, I decided that it would be best to feign forgiveness even if I wasn’t ready to really forgive her yet so that things could move on – I told myself that “everybody deserves a second chance, don’t they?”

PANG. You know that feeling you get when you have a thought – just a thought – and the sudden, unforeseen tsunami of emotion that stems from it is so strong, so swift that it catches you entirely off guard?

Good God, I was crying – a 20 year old dude sitting in his room on an idle Wednesday afternoon, and I was unable to stop the emotion from distorting my face into a pained grimace. It took all my strength to not make any sound. If I could hear myself do this it would become too real. I was embarrassed for myself. Why now? Why was this still hurting, still agonizing, still rotting my core even now?
“It was a while ago, it doesn’t matter anymore” I reminded myself, pretending that it was true.

I fought it like hell. I punched the wall, my pillows, the door, anything that could distract me or pull my attention away from my own contemplations – if my Dad couldn’t make me cry with his punches and kicks then neither could this thought, this emotion, this foreign THING that was attacking my psyche.

I was wrong. It was getting ever harder to hold on…so eventually I let it all out. It was over surprisingly fast, like a dam breaking, subjecting everything downstream to its wrath. Never cried so hard in my life before, or since, that afternoon.

It took a while to pull myself back together. I gathered my thoughts and realised that I needed to make a fresh start. I had to stop faking, even if it was only to my closest friends. That’s when it began. That’s when I began to stop acting, stop pretending and abandon the charade that virtually split my personality. I admitted to myself where I came from and convinced myself that I could do better. I could BE better.

Some time last year, about 2 years after breaking down quietly in my room, I realised I had finally accomplished what I had set out to do that day. I can be “myself” (for lack of a better term) not only with my girlfriend and my friends, but also with my family. Thankfully, they’re better too. Their depression and my father’s alcoholism have been successfully managed by means of medication and counselling, and gone is the previous charade of happiness we put on for others. Now, we actually ARE happy.

Sometimes, I guess faking it can pave the path to a lot more than that CV that got you the job, or an empty promise that got you elected or laid. While pretending to be someone you’re not isn’t something that is particularly appreciated in our world, sometimes people might feel they have to do it to survive, to get them through a difficult time. Legless has mentioned somewhere on here that we all change, grow and all leave behind who we once were, hopefully becoming better people.

I couldn’t agree with you more, Legless.

Looks like you *can* “fake it till you make it” after all, huh?

Apologies for length, I guess something about this QOTW just inspired me to share.
(Sat 12th Jul 2008, 12:15, More)

» Gyms

Social Circles
I haven’t seen this mentioned on here yet, so I figured this was something worth telling. Has anyone else noticed that gyms tend to have their own micro-community, kind of like a small village or local pub? I joined my gym in November and was kindly shown around by a staff member to orient myself on my first day.

About half an hour in I had finished with the cardio equipment and moved on to weights. You know that awkward exchange of looks when you approach something at exactly the same time as someone else, and you try to figure out who gets their way first? This happened between me and some burly looking bloke. He looked at me, took a swig from his water bottle and began to frown.
“You’re new here.” It wasn’t a question. I began to wonder where this was going – had I committed some kind of gym-folk faux-pas? Perhaps he was just pointing out that I was round in the middle and skinny in the limbs. Bastard. But I couldn’t say that to his face.
“Yeah. First day.” I said, wondering why I was bothering with this exchange when I could have just used a different machine. Surprisingly, he smiled and introduced himself. He nodded toward the machine and told me to take my time, and to take it easy. “Oh, you work here?” I asked. I remember him laughing, shaking his head and telling me he was an accountant. I was a little weirded out by this (that he was a friendly gym-goer, not that he was an accountant) but quickly learnt that this place was actually pretty social and most regulars either knew each other by name, if not by face.

Over the next couple of months I became familiar with most of the “evening crowd” – those that finish work around 7ish and want to work out before heading home. One thing I had never expected when I joined was how much networking went on in this place, both socially and commercially. In the first month I was there I had found out two couples had started dating, one member gave another a job and if I wanted a travel agent that would cut me a discount I should talk to someone called Linda who could usually be found on the cardio equipment, etc. Before I knew it I actually enjoyed going to the gym to hang out with others. I wasn’t a very social person at the best of times so it was good to regularly see people I got along with. The fitness was a bonus.

Thing is, every community has its douchebag, the individual universally regarded as a weed in anyone’s garden of friends. It wasn’t that he lacked gym etiquette or behaved awkwardly in the changing rooms. No, this was much more subtle. This was the kind of guy that has to one-up everyone, the wanker that would claim he had a fiveskin if someone else said they had a foreskin. The subject of an inferiority complex dealt with by pretending to be the best at everything.

You know the type.

Now imagine that this guy wanted to single you out. Perhaps this story would have belonged in the bullying QOTW for all the little jabs he’d have at my expense. Now, I could handle bullying. Ignoring people like that becomes an art form when you’ve dealt with it through school, and I was 23 at the time. No, the difficult part was the unexplained vendetta he seemed to have against me. Imagine that someone you know is telling your friends that you’ve been backstabbing the very people that welcomed you to your social circle. Not nice. Remember how I mentioned Linda above? I went to organize a trip to Australia for me and my girlfriend and figured I’d talk to Linda about it. Turns out she didn’t want anything to do with me and told me between breaths (she was on the treadmill) that I had “one helluva nerve to come to her.”

Naturally I hadn’t seen this coming and my attempts at ascertaining what her problem was were going ignored. I asked someone else about why she was so pissed at me. I eventually found out Linda had been told by the gym dickhead (named Dave) that I had collided with the manager’s car in the car park and blamed her for it. Yes, it sounds like a watered-down TV drama but in real life these things matter, God damn it.

I confronted Linda and pointed out that I not only jogged to the gym but it wasn’t exactly in my nature to say stuff about other people like that. When I later found out that Dave was responsible I made a point of telling the gym gossip-queens about his behavior towards me (the most efficient way to spread any news).

Not everyone believed a grown man could be such a child til they paid attention to him when he talked to me. Some even tried talking to him about his behaviour but he vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Word eventually got around about Dave, but really there was no way to deal with him. He paid gym fees so he could come whenever he wanted. But nobody had to be his friend.

Though the gym itself was one of those massive international chain affairs the evening crowd was fairly small. Soon Dave wasn’t included in conversations; chats would end quickly upon his approach. He could tell what was going on. He must have. Eventually he took to bringing his iPod to the gym and kept it on the entire time he was there. He was being shunned, and though I figured he deserved it I couldn’t help but pity the twat.

Given he was in purgatory for his own actions there was little I could do. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said too much to the gym-folk, but I couldn’t unring a bell and decided to leave him be. Eventually he would stop turning up in the evenings at all. Last I heard the staff had noticed him bothering the lunch crowd.

Just comes to show that even adults can act like kids in the playground, can’t they? Perhaps so-called "playground politics" and the kids involved are just caricatures of adults in the real world.
(Tue 14th Jul 2009, 1:37, More)