So something struck me recently when a female acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook about buying a ticket to Comicon, and all the fun little things she's discovering about what she can look forward to seeing when she gets there. She's asking friends for budget conscious costume ideas and I was half mortified for her, and half completely agasp at the fact that I was watching all this unfold.
I met her through my husband. And while we share an online friendship of sorts through Facebook, and of course we've got plenty of ground on which to find common experience through infertility, mental health and wellness, and a joy of photography and all things artistic and written, this is one of those gap areas where you accept your friends for who they are and what they do, no matter the consequence of those quirky little idioms or how different they are from your own preferences.
Then I recalled my first meeting with my hubby. He told me he was a geek. He told me he was seriously committed to some truly geeky type games...Even as he described them I underestimated the extent to which they would tether themselves to his life. I very vocally drew the line at costumes. And the first time I had an opportunity to check, I looked in his closet, praying I wouldn't find anything in his wardrobe that would help him pretend to be something like Captain Kirk. Or worse, a comic book character I wouldn't recognize if my life were dependent on it. Much to my relief, I found nothing. He too drew the line at costumes for anything not remotely related to Halloween. I have no issue with a Halloween costume (well with what is hopefully an obvious exception of the "slutty career of choice" costumes pushed on women every October). At first, I know it felt like I was being snobbish, and that maybe others might think I was being a snob.
But it wasn't until I watched another Facebook post pop up with squeals of delight at the fact that Gillian Anderson would be making a special appearance that suddenly it hit me. I've never actually wanted to be anyone other than who I am. Chalk that up to some seriously awesome parenting on my mom and dad's part! With all due respect to everyone, I'm not perfect and there are and likely always will be things about me that I'd love to change, improve or sometimes even simply get rid of without replacing them at all. But I've never wanted to be anyone else for the sake of achieving that. I also don't really want a vacation from myself, or my life. I'd like a vacation from my job, from my household chores, from hearing the word mommy so often I want to pierce my own eardrums. But not my character. Not myself. I want to experience those escapes fully as myself. AND, when I fantasize about these escapes from reality, I do so as myself.
I am still a dreamer. I can envision that my life could look like that of just about anything. In fact, just last night I dreamed that I was a mother not only to my 2 year old daughter, but also to a man sized duck, and I wondered if I gave him hard boiled eggs for his school lunch was that too much...you know...in the way of asking my grown duck child to succumb to the parent-ally administered pressures of cannibalism. I have the wildest of imaginations. But I'm still always me. Sometimes a little more adventurous. Sometimes a whole lot more graceful. Many times louder than I wish to be. But I'm me nevertheless. And you could change the career, the friends, the hobbies and interests, and I could venture to tell you that I don't think you'd find anything terribly different than what you would see in me this very moment.
So to imagine or fantasize that you could be anything but yourself is completely foreign. And while I comprehend that there are millions of people who lavish in that kind of environment where fantasies come to life, and idols can be shoulder rubbed would be invigorating, I still don't see an appeal. What do those idols give us that we don't already have within ourselves? What part of oneself could be so hidden from the world that the only way one could feel comfortable sharing it, is in someone else's form? This is where it loses me.
And it goes without saying that idolatry and fantasy doesn't limit itself to Comicon conventions or other like experiences. There are whole magazine empires devoted to what is supposedly more mainstream flocking and idolatry of Hollywood actors and actresses, celebrity personalities, and goodness sake's even royalty. Or the sports junkies who live by stats and idolize specific players to the point where they name their pets after their most favourite player.
But where I'm going with this is, does this contribute in any way to our inability to connect with our own realities, identities...does it in any way contribute to the epidemic of our failing mental health? I know that despite my ability to admire qualities in other people, to wish to continue to improve my own self over whatever part of myself is now obsolete, I'm obviously no more inclined to overcome my depression and anxiety disorder than anyone else who is afflicted with it. BUT, am I healthier, and do I really have a better shot at managing it?