Putting on a ‘Normal’ Costume

The alpacas from the alpaca farm I went to today.

Do I even need to explain? I mean, obviously I’m going to because this is a blog and a blog needs words, but you get what I’m saying from the title alone, right? If not, let me lay out this scene.

Today, my dog had a bath appointment at 10 a.m. at my local PetSmart. At 2 p.m., I had an interview scheduled with an individual who owns an alpaca farm for a story I’m doing on him for the newspaper. I didn’t want to shower ahead of 10 a.m. because I don’t want to wear my nice work clothes (slacks and a nice polo) to take my dog to PetSmart, and also, who knows, I could get hair all over me, peed on, whatever could happen with a dog. Perhaps, you think, why not wear normal clothes after the shower and then change into the work clothes later? I’m weird, folks. That’s hours later, at which point, I will want to shower again. In other words, I like to be as “fresh” as possible for work ventures.

So, I stayed in my sweats and a hoodie while taking my dog to PetSmart, complete with a backwards hat to conceal my wild bedhead. But I’m also weird, in that, I had about two hours from 10 a.m. until she would likely need to be picked up again. I can’t be productive in that time. Knowing I have to go and do something again completely neuters me for some reason. Notwithstanding, I spent some of that time cleaning up the poop my dog “dropped” in the backseat of my car on the way to PetSmart.

By the time I did pick her up and get her back, it was already time to shower and get ready since I had an hour drive ahead of me. I like to be punctual. I arrived at the farm exactly five minutes before 2 p.m. I like when things work out for my punctual brain.

While commuting, however, and thinking about my change from my sheepish sweats look at PetSmart to my professional work look to meet the alpaca farmer, it occurred to me how often I feel like I’m undergoing a transformation or putting on a “normal” costume. There’s the guy who is ravaged by depression and being a homebody, disheveled at times, and then there’s the face I put on to go out in the world and hide all that. To present myself as a Serious Person™. This is sort of part and parcel with what I’ve written about before with the imposter phenomenon (or syndrome). When I step back and think about it, it feels ridiculous. Two hours ago, I was in sweats with messy hair cleaning literal poop out of my car, and now I’m presenting myself as a serious professional coming to do a story about you.

It’s really not that weird, of course, because we all put on a “normal” face despite whatever else may be going on behind there. But the juxtaposition today particularly struck me, and hence, this blog post. But I feel like that often: What’s normal? Well, whatever it is, here is me putting that costume on. I put it on for scattered 40 hours a week, take it off, and slink back into my hole.

My favorite professional wrestler is The Undertaker, and it reminds me of a story the man behind the character, Mark Calaway, has told or maybe it was another wrestler talking about him. But the idea is, the man is just that, a man with all the shortcomings of a man, i.e., Father Time catches up with all of us. He’s got banged up knees, hips, whatever injuries he has going on, plus the issue of Time. But once he puts on that Undertaker garb, with the black hat, the black robe, the black tights, and laces up those black boots? It’s a transformation. It’s a different “entity” completely. Once that gong for his theme music hits? Forget about it. Mark Calaway no longer exists, and all the aches and ailments Mark Calaway was going through 10 minutes prior no longer exist. (This is also why I am a huge fan of The Undertaker and respect the man behind the character so much.)

I feel like that a lot. Where whatever I am in this moment is the real me with all the trappings of the real me, but for those specific moments of the week where I need to go to work or be around family or whatever the case, I put on my Undertaker costume — my normal costume — and go get the job done, literally. Then when I come back home, I hang the costume up in the closet, and it’s back to being … me.

For the record, I’m not even talking about some sort of aspirational idea of whatever “normal” means. I mean, a basic, day-to-day being a normal functioning human being. That’s what I’m talking about. In that regard, I find a lot of the basic, day-to-day stuff can be difficult, exhausting, trying and challenging. Things I dread doing. Things that I plan an entire day around, and can’t focus on anything else because that thing is happening.

Normal, basic things that other people hardly think about because they are normal, basic things. Being normal is hard. Being comfortable in your own skin, no matter what you’re doing, is hard.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Has anything I rambled about resonated with your own experiences?

The Undertaker (this is him during his 1990 debut when I was only two months old!).

One thought

  1. So true! This really resonates with me, and especially, the idea of “being comfortable in your own skin” as being difficult.

    The Undertaker looks like he means business! Haha he looks awesome. but yes, that idea that we are all just people in the end is something that is eye-opening for me. If I think about how I present myself differently physically and, in a sense, personality-wise to those around me, then that means many others are doing the same! It’s comforting but also crazy to think about the “normal” that everyone puts on in the day to day.


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