“Why does everyone else seem so happy, together, free…?”
“What do they all know that I don’t?”
“Am I the only one that…?”
Have you ever felt more real than the people you’re surrounded by?
It’s not that you feel superior or want to be celebrated; you just wish you could connect with others, but most seem forever preoccupied with superficial distractions you can’t help but find unimportant.
They seem to know just what to say, both in person and online, but it’s like they’re not really saying much of anything.
They react to each other in similar ways, making noises you recognize as laughter, shock, acknowledgment, glee…
But you find no substance at the base of their commotions.
It’s a little like hearing a hijacked language being used only for its own sake—the phrases uttered merely for novelty.
How do you suppose they all see you?
For sure, none can see your real experience.
A few catch glimpses of the way you portray yourself; but you’re not even fully aware of why you act the way you do, or of exactly how you come across; so even if everyone were paying close attention to all your attempts at expression, you’d still never be completely known.
So, is it worthwhile trying to be authentic?
Or, is it better to show that you can fit in?
I find most of what society celebrates too impermanent to really focus on.
Trends change as trendsetters and their followers come and go.
Fads are quietly replaced.
Irony becomes a whole new set of mostly old things you can buy and try to reclaim identity from . . . at least for a while.I once visited a hookah bar with some friends from work.
After passing through doorways of beads and glass, I saw groups and pairs of mostly young folks spread out all around.
Navigating my way through distinct layers of fruity clouds, I heard talking and laughter.
I watched staff circle to take orders and nudge the greyed-out corners of burning coals.
It was a nice atmosphere.
Music blared as music videos played.
To me, everyone there looked exactly the same as the people in the videos.
Phones flashed as faces bunched and smiled.
It became obvious that being at that hookah bar, looking a certain way, speaking the right language, etc. was a collective experience everyone else was completely committed to producing.
Yet, glancing around that room, I couldn’t help but think: ‘None of you are going to be there with me when I die; so what’s the point?’
Now, before you write me off as grim or nihilistic, I’d like to share why my thought that night was only superficially bleak.
I don’t see life as worthless.
In fact, life feels too important to spend being someone I’m not with people who don’t care about knowing the real me at all.
I don’t want to feel like an actor constantly driven to pester the rest of the cast with questions like: “So, what’s my character’s motivation in this scene?”
Relationships in such a superficial world seem akin to continental drift.
We gradually orbit in and out of each other’s lives, acting how we think we’re supposed to in whichever situations we experience together, and that’s it.
We keep in touch once we drift away, but only from about as far as the strangers we see often.
It’s all posted and public—our lives ever being held up to newsfeed lights where they’re measured against unfixed bars which unseen majorities must somewhere be smiling upon . . . at least for now.
Why do we live this way?
Why do we value approval and conformity above authenticity, transparency, and real connection?
Why do we spend our lives impressing those we don’t really know until we end up in hospitals being taken care of by more strangers for a final run at trying as hard as we can not to overly embarrass ourselves?
I believe part of our motivation comes from being a society that’s always had its famous heroes.
Basically, our heroes are those we all wish we could be.
In a way, they’re our replacements.
They live the lives we want instead of us.
Our heroes are our security and identity in a world we’re always told is risky and filled with scary “others.”
Therapist and psychoanalyst Sue Bloland writes, “In adulthood we idealize the famous as a way of sustaining the belief we held as children that we are protected by people more powerful and capable than ourselves in a world too frightening to endure without the comfort of this illusion.”
Our heroes have always reflected our standards of excellence and success.
Yet somewhere along the line our standards changed.
The title of hero was once reserved for those great champions who proved themselves to all through their achievements, rising to dominance in a society that prized liberty and individualism.
They were the bold movers and shakers who established and toppled power structures, enacting the impossible to leave a larger-than-life legacy in history.
Then we switched to a new standard where fame became all about image.
We began to value status over skill . . . appearance over substance.
Associate Director of Health Sciences at Emory University, Mary Loftus, writes, “The worst you could say of the old kind of fame, the kind based on accomplishment, was that it clouded your vision. The new, less durable fame, the kind refracted through images, proves especially corrosive to the self.”
In short, we became a culture in which everyday people were taught that they should be satisfied to be represented by those beautiful, charming, lucky few who were handed fame simply for being able to appear a certain way.
“Today men seek the kind of approval that applauds not their actions but their personal attributes,” writes historian and social critic, Christopher Lasch. “They wish to be not so much esteemed as admired. They crave not fame but the glamour and excitement of celebrity. They want to be envied rather than respected… What a man does matters less than the fact that he has ‘made it.’”
Then, not long after celebrity replaced achievement as our highest ideal, technology basically flung fame’s doors wide open to all.
Celebrity was once reserved for only the privileged and chosen.
Models, movie stars, pop stars, and other cultural icons were handed the weight of the world’s attention to carry.
But take a walk through any city, and you’ll see scores of beautiful people just as capable of looking, sounding, and acting as perfect as any celebrity can be made to appear in the media.
Once the internet, social media, and YouTube essentially gave everyone the means to create a sizeable following for themselves, our celebrity-obsession dynamics quickly spilled over to prevail in new mediums.
I see a particular tragedy in that, given what I believe those online avenues could still represent: a place for all individuals to experience free and honest connections based on who we really are.
But since anyone can now portray themselves as whatever they think we’re all supposed to be, the pressure to create a perfect and socially acceptable image online is heightened rather than diminished.Instead of being a place where we could all easily connect based on our real values and interests, the internet became a scary, cliquish place where that feeling that everyone else knows just how to appear happy in their frivolous pursuits is magnified.
And fame online is offered like a drug.
Journalism and media professor at Creighton University, Jeffrey Maciejewski, confirms: “The activity behind such things as Facebook status updates and tweets arouses our central reward center, dispensing dopamine, the neurotransmitter whose effects are amplified by stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. Consequently, some people turn to social media for this stimulation.”
In other words, we’ve turned our currency of image-manufacturability into a real time chemical drive.
The unspoken message understood by all is that success in a world of image can only be attained by appearing to fit one of a few pre-crafted molds.
The existence of the internet and social media mean we’re now all exposed to everything all at once. This leaves no time for deep evaluation or nuance.
We’re a generation that can’t afford to read the book or unravel references.
Thus, the image we portray can’t really be that original. It’s simply the case that none of us have the time to understand several billion unique expressions simultaneously.
To be accepted today, we’re given pieces of pre-existing images to attempt to conform to. But none of us will ever be able to conform perfectly, since real people are far more complex than the soundbite (and fashion bit) categories we’re all thrown and then silently yelled at to try as hard as we can to adopt.
And that’s the whole point: In an image-dominated world, we’re not actually supposed to fit. We’re supposed to act like we fit. We’re supposed to show that we can appear to fit.
And some are great at that. They even show much practical intelligence in doing so, since portraying an acceptable image has become foundational to success.
Props to them.
Others, like me, will never be able to pretend.
People who know how to create a favorable image for themselves based on society’s standards are called narcissists.
Now, narcissism isn’t a derogatory term. Narcissists aren’t self-obsessed. Rather, they’re image-obsessed, or image-adept.
Originally, narcissism revers to Narcissus, a character in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection.
Narcissists are those who know how to work with the pieces we’re all given.
Again, none of us will ever actually be what society deems acceptable. We all fall short. Narcissism is simply one way to respond to our inevitable feelings of inadequacy whenever we see ourselves not measuring up.
Narcissists are driven to pretend they do measure up, whereas others aren’t.
To the narcissist, the image they portray is not a lie or disingenuous. In fact, narcissists do all they can to convince themselves and everyone else that they really are their image.
Writer and narcissism expert Randi Kreger says, “This mask, which the narcissist thinks is real . . . chases away feelings of depression, abandonment, and shame. It protects her from painful feelings.”
The most successful, happy-seeming people who amass the most followers and fans are actually just the most adept at appearing the way we all think we’re supposed to.The narcissist’s image is, in truth, the opposite of everything they could never bear to admit seeing within themselves. They unconsciously run from their own unacknowledged inadequacies toward the image they create.
For the narcissist, life becomes all about performance. Maintaining the integrity of the image becomes their primary goal.
“When a person feels so deeply flawed that he or she cannot imagine ever ‘fitting in’ in human society,” writes Bloland, “a solution is to imagine rising above human society. This is the narcissistic solution to shame: If I am not lovable for who I am, I will have to make people admire me for what I can do—and that is how I will make sure that I am never abandoned and alone.”
In a world ruled by image, true flaws are never acceptable to show. That means we all end up robbed of the ability to really know and connect with each other on a level that includes weaknesses and other shameful aspects of how we feel and behave.
Kreger says of narcissists, “Life is dominated by doing, achievement, and performance rather than on intimate connections with others.”
If we can’t be real, we’re left with two basic options: Either we give up and quietly watch the seasons of trendy fakeness pass by until we ultimately die alone; or we engage in the exhausting, life-long exercise of earning public approval by maintaining an acceptable image.
You might say I’m imagining a different kind of world, yet one I believe already has the potential to exist.
I’m speaking to the unseen, dull grey masses . . . those currently hidden in shadows cast by a few shining stars.
I’m speaking to those who so far only watch, and read, and “like” . . . those who wait unnoticed down in the dirt as frozen faces on plastic billboards are raised above into an empty sky.If you’re someone that values transparency and real connection, I hope to inspire you to move in the direction of being and showing the world a person as close to the real you as you can be.
I’m not really fighting against narcissism or society’s values. I’m not trying to change the world, culture, or public opinion.
Challenging values never actually works. Have you ever met anyone that doesn’t think they know what’s best?
No amount of data could convince someone bent on being acceptable that it might be better for them to be more the person they’re so desperate to escape. . . the person that they will not see within themselves (at all costs!).
That’s the thing: I’m not telling narcissists to stop trying to be relevant.
“Part of being in a relationship with a narcissist,” writes Kreger, “is accepting that he sees the world the way he does, and you can’t change it. You can, however, change yourself and the situation.”
So I’m speaking to others like me: people who want to be the best versions of their true selves that they can be.
I’m speaking to those who don’t value fame, status, celebrity, or image, for such things seem to end up only using our lives to draw needless excess in unsustainable bursts of hype.
Normalcy is drawn to balance and peace, which are some of my core values.
I’m writing to those who don’t want to be seen as special, but who want to be themselves—unique individuals who happen to find themselves living in this strange, amazing world for whatever reason.
I’ve found enormous value in seeing and sharing my real experience.
In facing everything about who and what I actually am, I see what I truly want enough to eventually move beyond all that’s held me back.
Maturity, character, and change can be the result of being unable to ignore your true state and values over time . . . which happens when you find a way to share those things publically.
Bloland writes, “I would propose that self-esteem is experienced in the context of authentic interpersonal encounters in which the self is revealed and acknowledged rather than obscured by idealized self-images.”
But I believe the value of sharing our real experience goes beyond just the benefit of helping us maximize our individual potential. Who we truly are today can be recorded to last forever, leaving an accurate footprint for all future generations.
If some distant species were to one day see everything we currently show of ourselves, how much of us would they really know? Would they just see what we think we’re supposed to be?
I believe our silly, normal human lives are valuable (just as they are), and that what we express should remain a memorial to the fact that we happened to exist and have the particular experiences we had.
History need not be written only by the winners anymore . . . or, in today’s case, flashed through in slideshows of the famous and trendy.
Education Specialist Deborah Bial said in her commencement address at the University of Rochester:
I say take a risk. Be your real self. I’m guessing it’s pretty good and you’ve tried it before, right? You put a toe into the waters of a classroom discussion, even if you’re not sure you’re going to sound smart enough. You peel back a layer of yourself when you go on a date, holding your breath while you hope that he or she won’t run away when they see the real you. These chances are worth the risk. The rewards are great. We win relationships. We win respect. We win love. We win by living in a world we can touch, see, feel, and believe in. A world that is real. So take the risk. Help create a society where we can trust what we hear. And if the instances of truth outnumber the lies, we all win.
The authentic are the unheard today. Yet my belief is that the value of what we’ve yet to share is something that would greatly benefit a silent majority, as well as everyone else.
If enough people were to be their true selves, it might even take a little pressure off those narcissists at the top.
Maybe we could help them without challenging their values…?
Bloland concludes, “A willingness to reveal how fundamentally human we really are—in our feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and shame as well as of personal strength, pride, and self-acceptance—can help us to feel more authentic to ourselves and to others, and can draw us together in appreciation of what it means to be a member of this flawed but wonderful species.”
In practical terms, you might have to create a cool pseudonym to express and celebrate your true self without being ostracized from society.
But if you’re going to know me, you’re going to know the real me—my limitations and my strengths, my passions and my compulsions, my struggles and my goals.
I see no point in hiding what society calls unacceptable. I want to see myself for what I really am and grow. I want to help others do the same.
“Get good at being the real you,” advises Bial, “Put that person out into the real world. Practice that. You will build your confidence, and your confidence will be based on real experience, practiced honesty, and humility. You will make yourself better and you will become a much more valuable asset to our society.”
My name is A.K. Finn. I write and share stories that celebrate real human experiences. My tag line is “almost human.”
My aim is to get as close to real as I can in a world of pretend.
Some topics I’m sure I’ll come back to often are: identity issues, personality, emotions, communication, facing limitations, contentment, values, generations, reaching goals, and other components of figuring out what it means to be a person in this fast, loud world we can all only really face from within ourselves.
Bial, Deborah. “Don’t Just Be a Brand. Be a Person.” Commencement Address at the University of Rochester. Rochester, NY. 2 Feb. 2016. Speech.
Bloland, Sue Erikson. “Fame: the power and cost of a fantasy.” The Atlantic Nov. 1999: 51-2,54+.
Kreger, Randi. “Behind the Facade: The “False Self” of the Narcissist.” Psychology Today. 28 Nov. 2011.
Loftus, Mary. “The Others Side of Fame” Psychology Today; May/Jun95, Vol. 28 Issue 3, p48
Maciejewski, Jeffrey J. “Whom do you follow? Christian life in the age of Facebook and Twitter.” America 9 Feb. 2015: 16+.
Happy Cool Motivational Speaker
Have you ever been broken out of yourself?
Maybe you were pulled reluctantly into an unfamiliar sport, or perhaps pushed to speak up, step out, or otherwise participate in some new and adrenaline-rousing scenario.
Self-help seminars with motivational speakers are designed to break you out of yourself. Here’s how the experience might go:
Seated outside the venue in your parked car, you talk yourself through the likely process of making your way in, getting registered, and finding a seat.
You consider who you might run into on the way, hoping to exude an air of confidence as you approach and step through large double doors and down a narrow corridor.
You see a few others scattered about. Some are clustered in tight bunches, though most appear alone and focused on phones or other items in their hands.
You come to a welcome table where friendly name-tagged greeters smile as they search out names on rosters. One confirms your admission, handing you some set packet or notebook for the day.
You turn to face where the meeting will be held. It could be a little hotel conference room with foldout chairs and loud carpet, or perhaps a vast auditorium with dazzling lights and a booming sound system.
You slide in and quickly find a seat.
You glance around at all the others, watching those still arriving as they sign in and get situated. You try to pay close attention without being too obvious, seeing what you can guess about their stories.
You wonder if they’d be interested in knowing yours.
Gentle music fills the air, only to be drowned out by the telltale over-overtness of small talk. The chatter seems to originate from a few distinct spots and spread outward through the crowd in waves.
You wonder if those you see and hear are the same as you.
Why are they there? Why are you?
Wouldn’t it be nice, and seemingly logical, if you could all just open up somehow and be completely honest with each other? Why have to jabber on about the sorts of details everyone’s supposed to seem interested in (but will soon forget)? Why shouldn’t a group of motivated strangers who’ll likely never see each other again feel free to briefly bear their souls?
Some sort of signal occurs. Either one of the welcome desk workers steps forward to press a few buttons on a stray laptop up front, or lights dim as dry ice smoke billows across the hallways and a radio voice announces from everywhere it’s time for you all to put your hands together for so-and-so.
A charismatic, well-dressed individual trots to take the stage (or front of the room).
All are exhorted to rise.
You stretch and bob to your feet, or perhaps slither up like a wary snake.
Short, pithy, excited sentences are fired in rapid succession to remind you why you’re there. You’re assured you won’t be spending the coming hours merely rifling through a few exercises and taking a page or two of notes; rather, you’re given a grimly toned ultimatum that offers you absolute power to use what you’re about to receive to radically change your life . . . if you choose to.
It’s all up to you.
You’re told to turn to someone near you and shout something along the lines of, “We have the power!”
Feeling ridiculous, you nervously half-pivot your gaze until it catches that of the nearest stranger. As your eyes meet, some silent form of instant wordless communication takes place. Each of you quietly mouths the line below the unsteady drone of all the rest.
You’re not given time to feel like a failure for fluffing through your first assignment.
The speaker starts to ramp up again, busting out word picture after word picture.
Some of the described scenarios start to strike dangerously close to your exact circumstances.
With each representation, a choice is offered. You’re told in no uncertain terms that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish if you believe in yourself enough, and if you just find a way to do those things you know you should be doing.
Affirmations of hope are shot like arrows, and you begin to repeat them back with ever greater intensity.
You stand, sit, jump, and scream on cue.
Before long, you’re peering sidewise at that same stranger again, though now without the paralyzing flood of apprehension. You each see in the other’s eyes the same newfound resolution . . . the same pride . . . the same purpose for having come to the meeting in the first place, now fulfilled.
You’re given a few final, crucial lines to yell and remember before the speaker ducks out, flashing one last knowing ear-to-ear grin.
Smiling, you rise to your feet and begin to pace back to the hallway. You note an air of confidence to your step that feels far less forced than when you first arrived.
You watch yourself in awe striking up conversations with other attendees. You marvel at your newfound sense of boldness and self-assured demeanor.
You feel yourself being surrounded and absorbed into a somewhat sweaty human mass of hopeful potential and optimism.
You pick up a copy of the speaker’s latest bestseller, staring at that familiar beaming face on the cover as if sharing an unspoken secret with the glossy image.
As you carry the book back to the table up front to pay, it occurs to you that you’re happy.
You’ve been broken out of everything you were.
In time, you hear the boisterous noise of the crowd begin to dim.
Stepping out into the breeze, you pause to absentmindedly remember where you parked.
It seems unusually quiet and still as you saunter back across the lot. Your vision is inexplicably drawn to tiny cracks and slight vegetation growing deep in the faded, painted-over pavement beneath your feet.
You pop your driver door and gently enter, your car feeling like a pair of old jeans or pajama pants after having shed a stiff tuxedo.
The radio scratches to life as the engine kicks over and on, but you quickly switch it off. Your mind is still buzzing with the roller-coaster pace and tone of the speaker’s amped-up words. It’s the only voice you want to hear and think about.
You’re glad to find that all those lines which hit so close to home seem to be holding fast like knots in your mind.
You carefully pull out and onto the street, watching for oncoming traffic.
You zone out as familiar roads construct themselves into a recognizable gridded blur.
You glance down at your phone in the cup holder to see it’s now 9pm. You start to consider the unaccounted-for space between arriving home and sleeping. The idea of a couple hours spent glued to TV while sprawled across your couch doesn’t quite seem to align with the values of the new you you’ve become.
You repeat the lines you were given to use to maintain your peak state.
You watch all those who dot the streets ambling along in every direction. None seem anywhere near as intentional or excited as you’ve learned to be.
You decide to make it one of your life’s missions to help as many others as possible experience breakthroughs like yours.
As you dreamily picture the speaker’s face again, you see yourself one day thriving in that role.
You pull into your garage.
Work, calls, emails, TV…
Social media, family events, unexpected deadlines…
Plans are deferred, and some forgotten.
You see yourself missing slight opportunities whenever your focus is momentarily misplaced.
Maintaining your new standard of being feels sort of like holding a heavy dam up over your head to keep water from trickling across the top.
You see yourself not greeting each acquaintance with quite as wide a smile.
You see conversations, and projects, and your appearance slipping at times, but only slightly.
You continue to fight whenever you can, doubling-down on your convictions just as you were taught.
You recall every magic word to shout at yourself, though lately you’ve only been shouting them from within.
You smile whenever you think back upon that monumental day—whenever you remember how the speaker made you feel about yourself.
You know you’ll be that new person again soon, because you know that’s who you really are. That’s who you’ve seen yourself made into. That’s who you can still choose to become whenever you…
Something bad. Something unforeseen.
You see yourself unappreciated, unnoticed, let down, passed up, betrayed…
You watch yourself get hurt or hear bad news.
The skeleton dynamic of some old, long-buried relationship protrudes its ugly head at just the wrong moment.
Sets of grinding gears begin to grip and squeeze your thoughts like a shrinking room.
You know full well you could resist. You know exactly how. Your next breakthrough could be but moments away, requiring only that you pick yourself up, repeat a few of the right magic lines, go into your car and scream at yourself, get yourself to the gym…
Nothing could be simpler for you than to bring your puppet self back to where you can be broken out again.
But you don’t.
You might the first time, and even the second…
But eventually you see yourself simply not doing what’s become the least appealing of all options.
Your mind no longer feels trapped by crushing waves of interminable thoughts. Your heart has mostly risen from its state of heaviness and restraint.
You watch yourself go to work each day, even reaching some of your potential.
You see yourself sort of trying to be a good person, often smiling at most friends, often not muttering too many angry words, often not drinking or smoking too much, often not giving all your spare time to TV, often not overeating…
But what happens to your breakthrough truths once you unconsciously decide how much less than them to settle for?
Well, you still talk about those truths as much as possible. You still read related articles and tap appropriate social media buttons.
You basically become the loudest of all of life’s congregants to say “Amen!” whenever you hear the principles you recognize; but what you’re really doing is acting as though affirming your convictions is same as actually living by them.
How long such cycles of settling take can be somewhat age-dependent. If you’re young, you can probably grip the essence of your transformation much longer, carrying the hype much farther up your every-day mountains.
Any older, and those experiences of being broken out start to get swept up into a life of verbal assent (but contrary action) much faster.
The more often you seek to be broken out of yourself, the less permanent the transformation becomes until your whole life ends up a lie you simply won’t acknowledge. You unwittingly allow yourself to live below what you proclaim, never fully admitting the distance you see between your ideals and your reality.
So, is self-improvement possible?
I call myself the Happy Cool Motivational Speaker, sort of as a joke.
Some motivational speakers seem to take themselves very seriously.
Basically, I don’t believe in hype at all. I don’t think breakthroughs built on the adrenaline of being forced out of your psyche are ever sustainable.
I’m not here to give you affirmations or lines to memorize so you can rise above your current self.
I don’t want to hold meetings and get you all excited in environments far removed from your real world.
Instead, I’ll be happy when you can completely own and identify with every aspect of your life just as it is right now—when you can truly face and acknowledge the full weight of all your current hurts, joys, frustrations, accomplishments, unbearable feelings, hopes…
Because external pressures to live up to external standards are neither natural nor helpful.
I believe such motivations and ideals (imparted from without) are actually just tricks used to keep you useful to those who set or advertise them.
I also believe you’ve really always known what you truly want deep down, and that it’s not the flashy, perfect, driven life society convinces everyone we should all always shoot for and portray.
Your mind, left to its own devices, has always freely imagined and affirmed the simple desires closest to your heart. It’s called daydreaming, and it occurs about as naturally as your body digests food.
I’m not telling you to stop chasing your dreams. Quite the opposite. What I’m encouraging you to do is to start letting your real dreams and passions catch up and awaken you from the inside out.
Hype scenarios involve buying manufactured momentum that’s drummed up in environments completely detached from your everyday experience.
In real life, you can never perfectly live by that hype forever.
Your breakthrough occurs; but then you see yourself falling short, first a little . . . then a lot.
Before long, you get really good at pretending that being excited about change is the same as actually changing.
I don’t think you need to be broken out of yourself, lifted up, or given lines to shout in the mirror. Rather, I believe the more of your imperfect (human) life you can gradually start to face and really own, the more you can step back from it all to gain a more objective perspective of your true core values.
Ironically, it’s only when you arrive at that new perspective that real change can occur.
It doesn’t happen in an afternoon. It can’t be reduced to a methodology or beaten into you with mantras. The change I’m talking about equates to maturity, and each individual’s growth process looks different.
When the appeal of your specific values comes to gradually outweigh the comfort of your unique limitations and compulsions, you find yourself unable to go on settling.
When that happens, instead of forcing yourself to live by some imposed standard or ideal, you’re really just living a little more the way you’ve always wanted to.
Then a little more…
A little more…
In my Facing Addiction story, I talk about the power of finding a way that works for you to go public with any transformation journey you wish to undergo. The dynamics of going public over time (anonymously or not) enable you to truly face and grow beyond whatever combination of addictions, compulsions, cycles of settling, and other personal limitations hold you back from living by your values.
You can read, watch, or listen to Facing Addiction for free here.
By the way, your real life is actually already happening right now (in case you forgot).
So go be you.