PIONEERING MY PERSONALITY
Or…The Tale Of Jacqueline and Heidi
by Laurel Sparks
My life always had a peculiar slant to it. I grew up playing games, especially dress up, keeping secrets, being mysterious and elusive. Deviating from the norm, pretending.
No, I didn't have a psychological problem. I was just as normal as the next person was.
Nevertheless, my spirit had a way of letting me down.
I had a reason. My mother granted me excessive interest. In fact, both of my parents were strict to the point of extremes so this made me less than courageous in the choices I made. Inhibition set in and I was alone, keeping myself company.
What I needed was an escape from them.
During high school I was the girl that no one accepted because of her weight, in no way remarkable to look at. I wasn’t chosen for sports, or class officer, never stood out in the crowd, nor was the center of attention, except, of course, at home.
An outcast, if you will.
No one noticed me and I didn’t belong. I wasn't the subject of any conversation, for that I was sure. Back then, I was inclined toward a lonely existence, absorbed into my studies.
Socially, I had been cheated out of quality friendships so I might just as well have been discarded. Popularity is overrated anyway, although at the time I didn't realize that. Most all my classmates lacked in recognition of my achievements, which included musical talent and great grades. In my hometown, that wasn't enough.
In those days, abnormally, I felt no scorn or blame. I can't ever remember being insulted or made fun of. After awhile, I didn't like it, but didn't mind it.
I never complained.
Like a ship at sea with nowhere to anchor, I was a lost crusade. The kind of person whose name would never appear on any theater marquee nor noted for any legacies, or whose biography would interest no one.
The pattern followed me through fifteen years of adulthood. I became a flutist in a major city symphony, an introvert, and what's more, never dated. In fact, my relationship resume smacked of three entries from high school ROTC dances. As much as I tried to convince myself this was a standard way of life, I knew something was missing.
In the back of my mind lurked the possibility that someday I would make my break, instill an impression on someone, somewhere, if given the chance.
That day came one morning when I woke up with a new attitude, tired of feeling like an old souvenir long forgotten and put away. Weary of always being on the outside looking in. I had suddenly realized my life, up to now, was a series of mistakes and needed resurrected.
Several months earlier, I had read an article about a woman who was forced to wear a wig due to abundant hair loss with her chemotherapy. The story hadn't left my mind.
That was it, my answer.
Oh, the potential they would embrace!
Without a doubt, the initiative took a while to catch on, as this novelty would not be something that could be decided on in a minute. Would I be that far off base if I took on this mission? It was a long shot, but an opportunity nonetheless.
Throughout the next few weeks, I purchased a wig wardrobe just for experimenting. As I speculated on the different styles, optimism and submissiveness immediately hijacked my rationale. With every check of my profile in the mirror, I mouthed the words "Shame on you!" but the meaning just didn't penetrate my conscious. Strangely, it seemed each wig brought out the misbehavior and sensuality buried deep within me.
Suddenly I felt original.
The idea took on proprietary measures and soon set itself into motion. If I was going to carry this thing through, I needed to reform and figure in a conscious decision plus some creative insight.
In the wigs, I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be and the notion of a masquerade excited me more than I cared to admit. It did no good to remind myself this adventure might get out of hand.
It took a few more days, but I prepared. All the while, certain thoughts struck me: Was I up to being an imposter? To committing fraud? Did I have enough courage to lead a double life? After all, I would only be deceiving myself so what worries should I have?
I felt like a new car ready for a test drive or that I was at a private party and a certain amount of informality was permitted. Or even as if I were dancing without steps.
Yet I was well overdue for change.
Little did anyone know, I lacked the knowledge of those women who have style, grace and class. Therefore, I was a kindergartener in the school of beauty invention and no one was there to lend any advice.
With the help of a professional cosmetologist, I had a facial makeover and discovered my own refinement. The transformation was magical. It was as if I was on a maiden voyage to a land far, far away, or that I had kept a promise made to myself long ago.
Let me be quick to point out my intuition was on a wild good chase and my good sense might very well blackmail me throughout this metamorphosis.
Could I create this novel life with my old backwardness and shy ways?
Time would tell.
At first, I continued to don my frumpy wardrobe for daytime and maintain my identity as the timid and private person my acquaintances knew. It wasn't that I was embarrassed or ashamed; I simply decided it was just best for the time being not to disclose my secret. I still hid my well-proportioned shape, which included a more-than-blessed bosom, under flowing outfits.
I saved my new personality for after work hours and weekends. They couldn't come soon enough. When dusk arrived, my adrenaline kicked in knowing the next few hours would bring about the dazzling nightlife I yearned for. Little by little, I blended in to the social scene, alone, but I was used to that aspect.
Soon, I was on an obstacle course with two different lives and my emotions were deadlocked into a feud. Outside, my confidence swirled, while inside, nervousness was in full swing. Fear and excitement were serving as building blocks to my common sense.
You must understand where I'm coming from, a place I'm not familiar with. Keep in mind, I was brought up with modesty and insignificant, so naturally, those things would have to be put aside to clear the way to a new existence.
Once I slipped on a wig, my looks changed drastically. Along with my new appearance came further concerns. I had to sort out the emotions that were changing in unknown proportions because all this was bringing up the pressing problem of identity. I was beginning to confuse myself as to who I should be, what personality to adopt.
On the surface, there were no limits and my priorities hinted at a leap of faith. Yet I sensed an anxiety I had never known before.
Was my sensibility falling through the cracks? This was a game for sure and it was as definite as a calling card, by any stretch of the imagination.
Sometimes I felt as if I were playing charades, the way a spy passes himself off by hiding in a crowd. On the other hand, like I had traveled out of a run-down neighborhood and found my way into a well-maintained community where I will remain.
There were times I reminded myself this wasn't anything illegal. Half jokingly, I theorized I had served time as an unfulfilled doormat and suddenly had been paroled for courageous behavior.
Within months, the wigs became sentimental attachments, second nature, safety nets. Wearing them was like hearing the same melody playing different notes each time with me being the song, the styles being the notes.
It didn’t matter whether the wig was short, curly, long, straight; I was now ready for any occasion, almost at a moment's notice. Shades from honey blonde to UPS brown; Irish red to platinum ash made up my evening silhouette. I just knew lasting memories would originate while I wore the hairpieces.
An early-Cher style inspired me, giving a natural boldness I had been lacking. My favorite was the long auburn 1940s Rita Hayworth piece with its wavy, sleek, sexy, long layers that framed my face, adding kindness
Those times I was in a delicate, modest mood, I wore a short, curly coif that worked for effect, making me feel like a debutante, a sophisticate.
In my super short, close-cropped wig, I passed for a bewitching girl-about-town.
When I wished to return to my former self, luckily, all my mousy brown hair needed was just a simple shake or brief run-through with a brush.
Finally, I was in my element, in my own little corner, a success at something. I had a sense of belonging, with no plans for a relapse.
The most beneficial revelation of all was my damaged ego soon gave way to flattery. After I was comfortable with my new look, I learned how to call flirting into play. For once, I actually rated compliments while making heads turn my way, especially from the opposite sex. Moreover, I was accepting dates, spending unconventional, sensational nights out on the town, dancing the evening away with someone different almost every night. I felt like a Cinderella.
You see, deep down, I want to be the woman who men are secretly in love with, the kind men fantasize about. One of those female characters in the classic movies who were made for romance and intrigue with a tad bit of naughty demeanor.
I guess everyone has her or his own dreams.
With every adventure my heart pounded, reminiscent of someone who was caught up in a police chase. Another wig, another bad memory purged.
Another style, another pleasant leeway into my conscious.
I loved this double life. I kept reminding myself I was as free as the air with no one to answer to. The fact was, I couldn't find anything wrong with this simulation regardless of how many times I confronted myself.
Because once I got a taste for this unfamiliar bravery, I realized there was no more room for doubt. I had to make this work, or give up the silly notion of pretending.
And the delicacy of that taste was just too sweet, too satisfying.
It’s now been six months since I sported my first hairpiece. For good measure, I still keep the secret. Those closest to me are unsuspecting as I continue to veil under loose clothing. I'll gradually modify my appearance to accommodate a newer look, when the time is right. Only I'll know at what point to reveal the mystery.
You probably would like to ask: what am I gaining throughout all this? How could I allow my life to change so?
Well friends, I'm collecting traits I've never known before as a child or adult, like confidence and self-esteem. I no longer feel isolated, lonely, shy or ashamed. I've lost nothing in the transformation.
When the past comes to mind, a smile comes to my face. There's no going back. Never again will I permit anyone to destroy my credibilit
Contrary to what you may believe after reading this story, NO, I don't have a psychological problem. I'm just as normal as the next person is. It's just that my psyche opts to play talent scout to every new adventure.
Now that you've taken in all the facts, do you think I am living a fantasy, just being practical, or have compromised in maturity?
Have I fooled myself along with others?
I'll let you decide.
For now, I know I will never again be too ordinary or a run of the mill person who lives in the shadows. The wigs won't let me, for they decide my fate. From here on out, I'm wasting no more time. My attitude is under new management as I have been given a reason to believe in something.
As for other questions that need addressed I can answer them myself.
Had I been born again? Or born into this new personality?
Yes on both accounts. My constitution deviates as I change wigs.
Does this lifestyle suit me?
Will I continue to carry this charade through?
Absolutely, for I have exceeded my own expectations and underestimated my judgment.
After all, it's too late to turn back now. Why should I? I've not only been compelled to break with the past but love the new person I have become and feel my life just beginning.
Do I think of myself as a pioneer?
Laurel says: “My career consists of writing and editing radio commercials during daylight hours. By night, I focus on writing projects. Currently, I am composing two contemporary romance novels and have submitted my first 83,000-word manuscript to an editorial service for an evaluation. Also I have written seven short stories and numerous poems all tailored toward women's issues. I am proud to reside in the same Hoosier hometown as the great Purdue University of which I am a graduate. As an up and coming contemporary romance novelist, I'm knocking on the publishing world's door. I can only hope they let me in!” Contact Laurel: firstname.lastname@example.org) - "Words Are My Business"