Lesson 28

It’s still summertime in London!
How do I know?
Why do I think this?
The weather hasn’t been great, so what is leading me to this conclusion?
There are still Aussie friends coming for visits…
And that – to me – makes for a British summer!

Last week, a comedian friend of mine was in town and we got to hang out a couple of times.
I haven’t seen her in a couple of years – well, I’ve seen her on TV and the like, but we haven’t seen each other in the flesh – and it was great to see her perform again as well as spend time with her.

I was trying to describe her style as a comedian to some English friends who hadn’t seen her before…
And I realised that one of the beautiful things about her (she needs a nickname – let’s call her Funny Lady [not after the bad film sequel to “Funny Girl”]) is that she manages to maintain a genuine version of her real personality within her performance persona.
It’s not a secret that stand-up comedians develop a version of themselves that they use for performing.
… That’s the ones who don’t just create a whole other character.
Anyway, Funny Lady is one of those magical creatures who is able to give the audience an insight into her fractured self without distorting the view too significantly.

Coincidentally, two days after coming to that realisation, when the Funny Lady and I were having a chat about other funny and talented people that we know, we got onto the topic of performers who are known as their iconic characters, but sometimes lesser known as themselves.
Think Barry Humphries as Dame Edna.
Think Jane and Gina as Kath and Kim.
Think Sasha Baron Cohen as any number of people other than himself.
We were talking about the effort required in the beginning.
The effort needed to make that differentiation and to stick to it.
The effort of always playing someone else.
But also the relief of not having to be yourself.
The protection that brings.
The disguise.
And then I wondered whether those people’s brains just work in a very different way to the rest of ours.

Funny Lady’s suggestion was that their brains, perhaps, don’t run differently to anyone else’s.
Instead, she thought, these people just create a physical manifestation of the social chameleon behaviour we all exhibit.

I thought about what she said.
And I saw her point.
It’s a well-known fact that we are multi-layered, multi-faceted beings.
It’s an oft-discussed topic, the one of behavioural adaptation.
And we’ve all seen friends completely change their behaviour in front of different people.
That’s if we’re not those people ourselves!

Lesson 28

I am conscious that I can be easily influenced by others.
Particularly in terms of my dress sense.
I mean, my style won’t change wildly – it’s not like I can afford to completely overhaul my wardrobe every time I make new friends!
But – and I’ve noticed this particularly when I’m on long temp assignments in different types of workplaces – I am aware that I start thinking differently about ways in which to wear pieces I already own.
It’s sort of like costuming myself, I suppose.
In the way that a chameleon disguises itself to match its surroundings.
I am usually unaware of what I’m doing until I’ve been doing it for a while.
My brain will be flicking through the rolodex of clothes that I have, getting more and more frustrated with the same, old, boring results.
Think Clueless.
You’ve just had an insight into my life.
I’ll find myself starting to consider items of clothes that I’d not ordinarily give a second thought to.

It’s a weird way to realise that I adapt to surroundings and situations.
I like to think that I’m otherwise a fairly consistent personality.
I mean, not consistent in emotion, obviously – but consistently myself.
Sure, I may not share the same kinds of stories with my folks, or my nieces and nephews, that I do with friends.
I may not divulge all the dirty details of a date in a workplace, that I’d give over a drink or dinner to a captive audience.
But the manner in which I behave and conduct myself is fairly consistent.
I think.
Isn’t it?
You can tell me, I guess.

My question is:
Is there a problem with being one way or the other?
My answer?
As long as you’re happy with yourself…
As long as you’re not pretending to be someone you’re not…
As long as you’re giving versions that are all you…
Be the you that you want to be.
In whichever situation you want to be that you.

I can’t dictate how to live your life.
How to behave all the time.

And if you know where the distinction between your private and public life lies, perhaps you’re a better tuned individual than the rest of us!


Also, watch this.
It’s not entirely relevant, but it is amazing.



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