On how make-believe doesn’t end in childhood.
Did you play make-believe adult games as a kid? My sister and I spurned “playing house” for a game we called “multimillion dollar business deals.” She was the big boss, and I was her secretary. As such, I would answer the old, broken phone by saying, “Hello, you’ve reached Multimillion Dollar Business Deals” with an upward inflection. At school, I forced my two (short-lived) friends to play “rock n’ roll babies,” in which I was a woman in labor whose twin babies popped out as fully-grown rock stars. Kids are fucking weird.
You might have an inkling, or you might even be well aware by now, but adults never really stop “playing” grown-up. We’re the same kids deep down, but life pulls us by the wrist into strange games called full-time work, mortgage, and yes, playing house.
And this is fine, but if you feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t know what they’re doing—you’re not. Nobody knows what they’re doing. Anyone who can look you in the eye and tell you they 100 percent do is not to be trusted.
There are online treatises dedicated to “impostor syndrome,” droves of e-books detailing the art of “faking it till you make it,” and most prevalent of all, there’s that unspoken, nagging feeling so many of us share. The feeling that everyone around you is more “sure,” more confident, and more competent than you. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit.
Our mutual doubts, our inner child’s uncertainty—or rather, suspicion that this is all another, bigger game—these are human traits we all share. But they’re only a problem when they’re not shared.
I’m no Oprah, but if I have any wisdom to impart to young women on the subject, it’s this. Stay open. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability. Be like a kid. The more each of us can laugh at the absurdity of it all, the more we allow each other to simply be.
Keep make-believing. But do it with a sense of humor. If we’re going to be forced to do the “grown up” thing, we should at least have fun with it. What’s “life” anyway, but bizarre, beautiful child’s play?
Originally published as a newsletter for Girlboss.