Coping Skills. #22. Playing the Part

Black and white photo of roses Today is the way that I have long awaited – my best friend growing up is getting married!  Not only am I excited to be there for her, I also will be a bridesmaid for the first time.  Although I knew that this day was approaching, everything seems rather surreal.  How is that I am at the age where friends are getting married?  Life slips by so quickly.

Despite my excitement, I am also terrified.  In the past, weddings have proved a huge challenge for me.  The last time that I stayed for the entire party was years ago.  Even then, I isolated for parts so that I could manage the stress.  So how will I make it through today without becoming too overwhelmed?

After talking with my therapist, I decided to try a coping skill that might be a bit controversial.  Instead of panicking or worrying about myself, I am going to pretend to be confident and normal.  With a head held high, I am going to prove to everyone that I can survive this.  Even if I am dying inside, no one will know.  Once I get home, the emotions can pour out if need be.  However, at this wedding, people will simply see me as a loving friend who is so happy for the bride.

Playing a part can involve stuffing down emotion.  For years, I used this to escape from my feelings and pain.  Thus trying this coping skill is a bit risky.  If you do not feel ready to try this, please do not force yourself to do so.  Yet, used correctly, this skill can help someone to make it through stressful situations.  The key is to use it as a coping skill and not a lifestyle.  Acting can help for a certain amount of time but does not fix the problem.

Since I have made progress in being authentic, it is time for me to know when to put on a mask.  As much as it would be wonderful if everyone could be honest with others, our world does not work that way.  Sometimes, we need to protect ourselves or others.  Without lying to anyone, you can pretend to be more confident, calm, or positive about life.

I hope that this post makes sense.  In no way do I mean to confuse people.  Living a lie is not healthy nor is faking your personality.  However there are times when playing a part for a little while (a few hours) is needed to get through life.  Today will be wonderful and I will be joyous, strong, and regal.  No one will see the monster screaming in my head while I smile at the couple.  Perhaps as I pretend to be fine, my feelings will follow.


10 thoughts on “Coping Skills. #22. Playing the Part

  1. April says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts. I definitely understood— The key is to use it as a coping skill and not a lifestyle. I used “acting” as a lifestyle for so long, I didn’t know how to be any different. I am still muddling through it all, but making it.

    Keep looking forward. It sounds like you are overcoming some very tough issues, and you sound like you are having successes to build upon.

  2. jefairgrieve says:

    Go for it, Anna Rose! This sure works for me. I’m a real introvert, and yet I taught writing in a community college. Each time I walked into a classroom, I was “on stage,” but it was okay. I learned how to tailor my teaching to suit my comfort level. For example, when I had my students work in groups, that took the spotlight off me, and then I was comfortable. That was just one way I adapted.

    Do you know that song called “Whistle a Happy Tune”? It sounds hokey, I know, but if you look up the song and read the words, that might help. Better yet, learn to sing the song. I think Julie Andrews sings it, but I can’t remember which movie it came from. If you can hear the song in your head, that might help. Best wishes, Anna Rose!

    • Teaching is a courageous thing to do even for those who are not introverts. That is a wonderful example of using the skill of playing a part in a healthy way! Also, I do know and enjoy that song. It is from The King and I, right? Being in musical theater for years, I always liked songs like that. That is a great suggestion to think of songs like that when I am struggling.

  3. jefairgrieve says:

    Here is a link to the song, Anna Rose: It’s from “The King and I” and Marni Nixon sings it. “For when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well . . . ” This works!

  4. 80smetalman says:

    I bet you’ll make a lovely bridesmaid, have a wonderful day.

  5. suzjones says:

    Good luck. I hope the day went well for you. 🙂

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