Clowns. They aren’t that bad, are they? I mean, if they’re hiding in a sewer and offering kids red balloons then, okay, that’s kinda creepy. Is that how that movie went? Yeah, I never saw it and I never read the book. I’m not a fan of scary stuff. Too many real-world scary stuff. I don’t need to add a dash of it to my popcorn.
Not that clowns are scary! A little off-putting, maybe, but they just wanna be loved. Is that too much to ask for? No, no I don’t think it is so let them be loved, damn it.
There’s a chance that I’m a little bit biased and it’s important to admit to one’s biases. Let’s not start off with two secrets and a lie. That’s just not cool so, I readily admit, I have a slight clown bias. There you have it. Full disclosure and all of that.
It’s a trust thing, isn’t it? Admitting a clown bias straight off the tip of that big red nose. It’s better than pretending I’m a nonpartisan pollster. Going door to door conducting “research” and collecting “data” for the Clown Institute Of The Place. Nope, honesty is more endearing and a bit refreshing in these batty times.
Wow, how’s that for an indictment of the human race? Honesty has become a refreshing beverage instead of a full meal deal. We’re so used to hearing half-truths and outright lies that when someone actually speaks the truth? Those damn rubberneckers cause a traffic jam!
Where am I going with this? Be damned if I know, but if we keep going there’s a chance we’ll find out together.
So, bring back the clowns! In a manner of speaking. Don’t worry, a gang of clowns aren’t about to flash mob your humble abode. I’m good but I’m not that good. Okay, I’m not even all that good but I put my back into it so that counts for something.
Here’s a little known fact and, I assure you, there’s no word of a lie to be found: I was a clown. Not a class clown. I’ve always bee too shy, quiet, and easily distracted by shiny objects to pull that off. Oh, and I’m way too socially awkward to be that kind of clown. Perish the thought.
I was a real-life clown.
I had the full get up. The painted face, gaudy wig, and silly costume. That’s right my friend, I went all-in. I know, it doesn’t really sound like me. Putting myself out there in a costume, and situation, that’s so bizarre it’s sure to trigger my social anxiety. You’d be right to assume that it’s something I wouldn’t even entertain but I did it. Shocking. I know. It’s weird, right?
There was a theatre group and, in a moment of uncharacteristic whimsy, I thought, “What the hell? Let’s give it a whirl.”
So I whirled it, and I gotta say it was a lot of fun. There’s something so liberating, pure, and almost innocent about clowning. The make-up. The hair. The goofy outfits. Coming up with a character that defies our usual identities and pushes us out of our comfortable little holes. Finding new ways to move the body and express thoughts, emotions, without words. Changing yourself into a different person, creature, entity type thing, means you can be anyone or anything. You can play freely without judgment because, look at yourself in the mirror, you aren’t you right now.
I can see that, for some, the idea of wanting to be or pretending to be, someone else could strike a sad note. After all, we’re all told to love who we are and the best gift we can give ourselves is self-acceptance. Well yeah, of course, that’s true but how often is that our reality? How long are we able to maintain that reality?
We all have things we’d like to change about our lives, personalities, or our bodies. We all have moments when we don’t like ourselves very much. Do we all have moments when we hate ourselves, our lives, our bodies? Maybe we won’t go that far but a lot of us come very, very, close.
How often have you looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, for a fraction of a second, that life would be a lot better if you were someone else? If you looked different or acted differently. If you could change that one thing about yourself. Would life be better? Have you had those thoughts or am I’m the only one.
It’s possible that I’m out here alone but I doubt it. Even the most evolved among us have experienced moments of depleted self-esteem, self-love, and self-acceptance. It’s a natural part of the human experience. We aren’t all in, all the time. The thought of that is exhausting!
Or, I’m just looking for some reassurance that I’m not the only one. Who knows? It could go either way.
The moment I put on the face paint, tucked my hair into the wig, and zipped up the parachute onesie I felt a surge of confidence. I wasn’t sick, crippled, or any other moniker life had bestowed upon me. Everything that had happened, or could happen, ceased to exist because I wasn’t that person anymore. I got to choose who, or what, I was. I decided what my own identifiers would be and I had the power to use them in any way I, or my clown, wanted because I had the power of self-creation.
Creating my identity meant that I could be anything, anyone, and that gave me the freedom to explore. I got to play. I got to try things I never would attempt in my regular human form. I could be weird, strange, kinda out there and that was okay because clowns are supposed to be a little odd, goofy, and whimsical. They’re supposed to act in unpredictable ways. They’re supposed to be unique and it’s their uniqueness that’s celebrated.
Their uniqueness is also feared. Their unpredictability, their lack of known identifiers, and their painted faces are abhorred. Clowns are scary for a lot of reasons, I know that, but for some of us, it’s their lack of conformity that triggers something very deep inside of us. Repulsion, aversion, or intense hatred.
So, is anyone else picking up on a lot of mixed signals or am I reading too much into things? Be unique. Be different. Love yourself. Accept who you are. Be proud of who you are. Be true to you. Be you!
Whoa, hold up now! We don’t want that kind of uniqueness and, while we’re at it, dial back on the you-ness! It’s a lot. It’s making me uncomfortable. Don’t you know how the world works? You should be unique like everyone else. Quit clowning around and get in line.
Arg, I’m so confused.
When I was a clown, I was able to freely be whoever my clown wanted to be and no one thought worse of me, er her…Us? We were unique, different, and we could be proud of who we were. We could be true to ourselves. We were being exactly who we were. Unrestrained, unfettered, and free.
But the wig comes off, the make-up washes away, and the onesie is hung up in a closet. My clown vanishes and I slip back into my body, my identifiers, my life. Restrained, fettered, free but in a way that, I imagine, closely resembles parole.
Sorry, I know I’ve been talking about the idea of identify a lot lately, and maybe you’re getting sick of it. It’s something that’s been consuming my thoughts and it’s something I’m trying to understand. It’s something I’m struggling with in many ways. Personally. Professionally. My health. My life. My identity as a whole person.
There’s the person you see, the person my family sees, the person the world wants to see, and the person I see in the mirror. It’s a jumble and I’m trying to line them all up but something’s missing. I’m not sure what that is but I know I’m not whole yet.
Maybe I’m missing the sense of freedom I felt when I was a clown, on a stage, in front of an audience. There weren’t those mixed messages. I could be my unique self. I could identify as anything with anyone. I could step out of one body and into another. I could test the waters. Experiment. I could try out new skins. I could play without fear or be burdened by doubt.
No, I don’t think I’m going to paint my face, put on that wig, and zip up that parachute onesie anytime soon. While the freedom was nice it was also a bit of an illusion. Pretending to be something, or someone, else is fun and it’s a nice vacation. It can help us test our limitations in the safety of a small community.
But it’s very easy to deadhead the exploration when the costume comes off and leave the work half-finished. Testing my limits was great and I learned a lot about myself but when it was over, I stopped learning. The safety net was gone and I was left with a clean face staring back at me in the mirror.
I have so many questions about identity as a broad concept but also in the microcosm of my world. My place in the world. Who I am? Who I want to be? How do I become that person when all around me people are telling me to dial it back? How do I accept the person that I am when, who I am might scare people? How do I accept myself when who I am scares me?
I’m looking for answers and exploring the concept of identity. I’m digging through it but it’s not as simple as I’d like it to be so I doubt I’ll have any answers, anytime soon. If only it was as easy as painting my face, putting on a garish wig, and twirling around in a parachute onesie. If it was easy everyone would do it? Maybe everyone should give it a try at least once?
Full disclosure: I miss my clown. Clowns are an underrated species. The deserve more respect. We need to bring back the clowns!
Just not the creepy red balloon clown. Nope, he’s not invited. So much drama! Geez.