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On Being Someone Else

Some of us don’t like ourselves. We want to be like others. I’m sometimes like that. I loathe myself more when I’m most like myself, when I do the silly things I do and then think I’m not good enough. Or when I look back and realise I’ve been too forward, too frank or too open and the shadows of worthlessness, inadequacy and regret descend upon my features. “Be yourself”, they say. Why? Why do they tell you to be yourself and then not like aspects of the ‘you’ you are? People say they love you just the way you are and then spend their lives trying to change you.

Luckily there is a remedy for this. You don’t have to be yourself. You can be otherwise. You can be someone else. And I know exactly who it is I want to be. In my next life I want to be like David le Roux, in fact I want to be David le Roux. Why? Because David le Roux, in his deepest essence, is the very opposite of me.

Unlike me, David le Roux:

(i) Is a master of politeness

(ii) Is a model of reserve, a reserve that has never slipped in the decades I’ve known him. Moreover, this is true inner reserve, not social distancing or cultivated charm.

(iii) Guards not only his body space but also his social space. Doesn’t sluttishly just let anybody in.

(iv) Would rather die than interrupt.

(v) Never modulates expression, neither does he intensify it. Communicates in the same evenness of tone, irrespective of urgency or inner irrepressibility. Is never loud.

(vi) Seemingly doesn’t have depressions, pains, moods, joys, ecstasies, cravings, tempers. Has never had his heart broken or had loves that haven’t worked out. Never meanders, his ship sails straight. Is pilot of his emotional plane which never soars too high nor flirts too low. Exuberance and excitement are as foreign to him as are sullenness and dismay. Doesn’t mope or emote, merely states.

(vii) Doesn’t eat Feijoada or Dobrada á Madeirense.

(viii) Is moderation itself, whether in consumption or engagement. Doesn’t do extremes, never entertains the risqué, stays close to the mean. Is always in control, especially of himself.

(ix) Is always considerate, mindful and socially intelligent. Could give master classes on social comportment. Has a high EQ.

(x)   Always thinks before he speaks. Only talks about things he knows something about. Never blurts out in excitement; always checks himself first. Has an invisible inner gag against utterance, especially against what should not be said. Constantly applies self-censure, never betrays what he thinks.

(xi)   Is refined, not merely polished. Always emits elegance, doesn’t oscillate between scruffy and smart.

(xii)   If he were a music score he would be a lyrical legato melody, harmonious and euphonious. My cacophony is full of staccatos and sforzandos; there are sudden alterations in tempo, volume and mood. I strike the off-beat much too often, I hit strident chords. You’ll hear weird key and volume modulations and much dissonance…

There’s lots more, but enough. I’m tired of being the entertainer, the one making the social effort, the go-to person for fun and a laugh. So I’ve been working hard on transitioning to a Le Roux-type personality over the past year or so. Already I’ve consciously started to occupy the side walls in crowded rooms instead of the centre. And when I’m there I’m all collected and reserved and self-deprecating and don’t talk to anyone unless spoken to. You would be proud of me. In that mode I get glimpses of social heaven, of acceptance, I sort of am David le Roux, or at least Le Roux lite for a few precious minutes. I’ve even been taken seriously once or twice. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. I struggle to keep up the pose; it’s mentally shattering and I find myself slinking off home bathed in exhaustion from the restraint. But if I finally get to be Le Roux people would eventually accept and even – even – like me.

Now there’s only one thing. David le Roux’s wife once told me, a long time ago, that her husband David le Roux, this self-same Le Roux I so admire and so wish I could be, has an ardent desire, almost an obsession, to be more like me, the Me I used to be before I started being more like him.



  1. Not his real name but he exists. I usually ask permission from people to use their actual names in my pieces, but in David le Roux’s case I haven’t bothered. . I know he’d rather die than have his name mentioned here.
  2. My envy of Le Roux extends only as far as his social interaction and comportment and no further. I’ m quite comfortable with other aspects of myself, as unprepossessing as they may be…