The Puppet Show

I don’t feel like an adult. Not always.

Sometimes I feel like a five-year-old doing a puppet show where I’m playing an adult and supposed to do adult-like things, but no one gave me a script and I had to make it up by myself. It would keep me awake at night, worrying about screwing up so badly that people would find out that I had no idea what I was doing with this adult thing.

I thought I was alone. Then I saw this comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. (go there. I’ll wait.)

You would think that it would give me some sense of relief, knowing that this sensation of wearing a skin that doesn’t quite fit and having no idea what you’re doing is a universal feeling. 

Everyone has the sensation of totally faking it from time to time. Some people have it all the time and they call it imposter syndrome and battle with accepting that they are the genuine source of their accomplishments and aren’t just making crap up all the time.

Sometimes it does make me feel better. I don’t feel like I’m faking it all the time anymore, even when I’m making things up as I go.

Sometime, however, it bothers me more than it ever did when I was in my early 20s, trying to make my way as an adult. EVERYONE is faking it. Your pastor is faking it. Your therapist is faking it. Your doctor is faking it. The police are faking it. The mayor is faking it. The president is faking it. The presidential candidates are faking it. Everyone is making it up as they go along, playing at what they do in life and doing the best they can to make it work. 

Everyone. Sure, some people are doing better at faking it than others. That doesn’t change that it’s all basically a big puppet show and it seems like a good number of us act like that show is Punch and Judy. Studies on watching violence desensitizing us to violence aside, when Punch hits Judy or the baker or the constable and then the other puppet hits back, we’ve failed at the puppet show and people bleed. 

And we all fail at it from time to time. 

The consequences when I fail are pretty small in a world sense even if they’re big to me. I’m not a mover and a shaker, by any stretch, and I’m certainly not trying to keep order or lead the free world. When a police officer fails or world leader fails, the bleeding can quickly stop being metaphorical. Just watch the news and you can see that.
Sometimes I wonder if we couldn’t just make up a gentler puppet show in the first place, where we recognize that we’re all in this together and we need to help each other to make it work. What would happen if we stopped acting like we’re all alone and and stopped acting like this thing we call life is just a Punch and Judy show and played a new game like “I realized that people different than me aren’t out to get me” or “I helped someone today” or “I made a new friend who is different than me today.”

Or is my puppet just going to get hit with the big stick or blown across the room with the bazooka for wishing for something better?

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