Have You Ever Wanted to Be Someone Else?

Illusion painting

One of the reasons why I chose to be a writer was my recurring desire to be someone better, braver, bolder. Stories offer an escape and provide emotional comfort, and by writing them I can become other characters, and in a way, rewrite my life.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

― George R.R. Martin

Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to be someone else. In one of my earliest memories I am a four-year-old pedalling on a tricycle imagining I was the star of the soap opera my mother enjoyed at that time.

Aged five, I wanted to be Batman.

Aged six, I wanted to be Spiderman, because I was in love with Felicia Hardy.

Between ages 7 and 15 I wanted to be Zidane. The headbutt he gave a rival player during the 2006 World Cup final somewhat changed my mind, but then he retired after that anyway and I lost my interest in football.

In the following years I wanted to be this or that cute and stylish boy from my school or neighbourhood.

I should point out by now that I have never been altogether pleased with myself. I have always been short and frail and unhandsome, and experienced great difficulties each time I tried to tie my shoelaces. Don’t let my literary skills trick you. I am a faulty bundle of atoms.

Today I would like to be many people. A hardworking Nordic fisherman, a blubbery baker, an office clerk, anything but the hatted boy with his great literary burden.

I am aware though that I am a different person every day. Who I was yesterday is different from who I am today, and who I am today is not who I will be tomorrow. My feelings and my thoughts change fast. I am happy today, miserable tomorrow.

“I dreamt I was a butterfly, and I awoke, and now I no longer know whether I am a man who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who is dreaming he is a man.” (reworded.)

― Zhuangzi

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be someone else, I think, especially when you’re a writer. All that discontentment tickles the imagination and inspires you.

There’s a danger though. If you write in the first person, you could end up creating the same character over and over, only with a different name.

I suspect that time pacifies this craving to be someone else, as your dreams come true, or as they fail. Or after you make children. Then you are too busy raising the vicious beasts to have time to think about what you want.

38 thoughts on “Have You Ever Wanted to Be Someone Else?

  1. Great post. Sometimes the characters I liked and looked up to gave me the courage to do certain things, I felt like they influenced me for the better.
    And there were definitely times where I wished I could be that character, and live the life they were living in books.

  2. 🙂

    You repeat that you are short and frail too often. Now I connect these two words with you, even though they’re not my point of view to your person…

    I think you have even more time to think about what you really want in life when you have children. They make you go back to finding what is really important to you in life, and selecting. Cause you simple have no more time to loose.

    1. I think it’s a good association, and a true one.

      Julie you are an ivory tower: 3 cms + heels = dizzy heights.

      If we were to hug, I would have to climb a stool.

      Has Julie personal experiences with children?

  3. Haha I don’t know about the vicious beasts but I think Many of us share the desire to indulge in the fantasy of creating an alter ego or two. I’m perhaps even worse…I like to create entire worlds.

  4. I enjoyed this post. Very nice pic too.

    Though it is true that empathising life through others’ eyes can be excellent when writing – our task (I believe) in life is to at least be content – if not thankful – for the skin/body/soul/life we’ve been given. I’d strongly urge you to be unmindful of others’ minds if they bring you down; dismiss the fake plastics plastered across the whole notice-bored of media; and consider the positive value of the answer in the question of you…

    Peace mate 🙂

      1. lol – you’re not missing much to be honest.

        But media can include the advertising on billboards, newspapers, magazines etc… (i.e. is he the Gillette man? Is she the Bond girl? etc)

        (Ps. My words were in support of you and your post btw – in case it got lost in translation… People tell me I sound harsher than I mean… though my intention is to sound as gentle as they tell me I am… God knows 🙂 )

  5. Every time I write in first person , the same character does reappear..but he never befits the story. So I discard it. From tomorrow, I shall write in third person.

  6. Very interesting post! 🙂 Sometimes I want to be someone else, but I just don’t know what it would actually be like to entirely change your personality like that. If I did somehow change my personality or looks so that I would be like another person, would I still be me, or someone entirely new…? I think it’s best to be who you are.

  7. I’ve wanted to look like someone else, but never to be someone else. Maybe that’s why I haven’t made up many stories in my head? All of my stories are memories, painful though they may be. They and my ridiculous idealism are my muse.

    Also, I very much relate to this (and think it beautifully written):

    “I am aware though that I am a different person every day. Who I was yesterday is different from who I am today, and who I am today is not who I will be tomorrow. My feelings and my thoughts change fast. I am happy today, miserable tomorrow.”

    And, indeed, there is a reason I don’t have any “vicious beasts” yet. (A good metaphor!)

  8. “I suspect that time pacifies this craving to be someone else, as your dreams come true, or as they fail.” I always wanted to be someone, anyone else. Now I am mostly happy being me, but I often wish I were a prettier, smarter more confident version of me.

  9. The cynic in me believes that some parents have children because they want to be someone else. And as for writing. Funnily enough, I write so that I can be myself…

  10. “I am aware though that I am a different person every day.”
    I tell the same about me.

    Your post reminds me of something I wrote when I was 17 years old. From that age until today, I keep on me the certainty that, despite everything, I did not, and I do not want to be someone else.

  11. I share the same sentiments with you. I haven’t always felt this way, but more recently, as I age, I find myself struggling to be content with who I am. I see men who adhere to the stereotypes of masculinity more so than I and I struggle with failed attempts at becoming more like them. I try to deepen my voice or hide it completely, gain muscle, or have greater confidence and even wear different clothes. I can’t seem to allow myself to be at rest with the thought that no matter how hard I try I will never be one of them. I may seem unthankful for the many skills and traits that I do have, that most men do not, but it would just be so much easier to “fit in”.

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