I Have a Fake Personality

As a little girl, I changed who I was to fit in. Decades later, am I still pretending?

Tamara Gane
Human Parts

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Photo: Jaime Monfort/Getty Images

II grew up a sad, sullen child. Always quiet. Always watching the other kids as they laughed and played, trying to figure out how they operated. Sometimes they’d catch me watching and I’d blush and turn away.

My family was constantly in motion. By seventh grade I’d gone to six different schools, and my personality didn’t lend itself to making friends. More than that, there was something about me that attracted spite and derision from other children.

They teased me about my wavy, messy hair. I brushed it each morning in an attempt to render it neat and cute like the other girls, without success. It was too thick for barrettes, and I couldn’t figure out how to weave it into braids.

I was taunted at the bus stop for wearing high-water jeans, a term I didn’t even understand until someone told me it meant my pants were too short. Even then, I didn’t understand why it mattered. The reasons I was teased never made sense to me.

I longed to shrink myself invisible inside it but red jackets ten sizes too large don’t lend themselves to invisibility.

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Tamara Gane
Human Parts

Freelance Writer: The Washington Post, NPR, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s Travel, Ozy, HuffPost, Thrillist, Reader’s Digest, etc. Follow me on Twitter: @tamaragane