Wee Willy Shakespeare once said, “all the world’s a stage and we are merely players.” Wise words from one of the famous founding fathers of the Dead Old White Guys (DOWGs) club who still have a stranglehold on much of the literary canon and, to a certain degree, political and financial landscape. Words that make me wonder…
What’s my role? If this world’s a stage and I’m just a player, what role do I play?
Am I meant to be behind the curtain, pulling ropes and shining spotlights on stars? Am I just a small role- not even the star in my own personal narrative? Am I a man with a mask, gaining notoriety through playing the part that others expect? Or, perhaps, just a stock character, selling out my soul and accepting a simpler role? All the uncertainty is taking its toll.
I like to think- or hope- that the answer to all the above questions is no. Or should I say NO!!!
I am not just settling as some behind the scenes laborer, toiling away as others twirl in the spotlight, benefiting from my will and my work. I do not need to accept a minor role, allowing others to steal the show. And I certainly don’t need to continually hide who I am, itching in my own skin, wondering what will happen if I tear off the masks I wear.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need to be the star but- at long last- I gotta be me! I need to dance like me (pretty goofy), sing like me (slightly off key), walk like me (oddly, I’m told), talk like me (kinda quirky), and think like me (preach it, brother!). I need to stop wearing masks and delivering lines that aren’t mine. I need to stand up and speak- not what I think you want me to say, but what is actually on my mind, each and every day.
So what’s holding me back, you question, dear reader of mine?
I’m afraid. Afraid of being judged. Frightened of not being loved. Terrified of negative consequences. Concerned with ramifications of no longer wearing masks tailored to present me not as I am, but as who you want me to be. Doubtful of my commitment to pull off this part- the role of my life- of plain ol’ me.
Why the trepidation? All my life I’ve been shifting shapes just to hear “you’re doing great!” Every day I’ve been sliding into someone else’s skin, unsure if I could win.
The real me? I’m a yo-yo, up and down, sometimes a mess and yearning to grow. One day hiding pain, the next pulling up on reigns. But learning to fly under the radar is no way to be a star.
So long I’ve been taught to hold it together. Sell myself out and weather the weather. Hide all the lows and mellow the highs. Don’t show yourself- put on a guise.
But I’m thinking it’s time to come out of that closet. Set myself free, fuck easy does it.
What part will I play? I’ll play who I am. Costumes exchange. Sets rearrange. Singing high and low cuz I got some range. And if you think I’m strange? I ain’t gonna change.