I’ve never been very good at pretending everything is okay when it isn’t. Acting isn’t my strong suit (as anyone who saw me in my high school play can attest), and I wear my emotions on my sleeves, pants, shoes; my entire outfit and coordinating accessories are made up entirely of feelings (note to self: make an emotional Snuggy). When something is going wrong or I’m upset, I don’t care to hide it. I think the whole ‘stiff upper lip’ thing is overrated, and I would just rather be real. That doesn’t mean I burst into tears in inappropriate places (the streetcar is perfectly appropriate, shut up), it just means I don’t make small talk when there’s an elephant in the room (or text messaging window – potato/potahto).
That being said, there have been times where I have pretended everything was just peachy, to mixed results. Way back in my former life, my high school boyfriend and I broke up just before the holidays. It was as full of teenage emotion as you can imagine, and relatively messy. We wanted to ‘stay friends’ (no matter what anyone says, I stand by the statement that this is not a good idea, ever), we saw each other all the time and were still hooking up, so when he asked me to act like we were still dating and go to his family Christmas I didn’t think it was a big deal.
Let me paint you a picture: awkward, teenage Steph (she looked something like this), accepting Christmas gifts from her ex-boyfriend’s parents, at her ex-boyfriend’s grandparent’s house, all the while trying not to think about the fact that her life is over due to said breakup. Merry fucking Christmas. Our little charade didn’t last very long (nor did our ‘friendship:’ like all good high school romances we dated other people, got horrifically jealous, and ended up back together before university ended what we could not).
There are, of course, the times where pretending is better than the alternative: letting the other person know they are ripping your heart out and devouring it, Khaleesi styles. I am the worst with that because I tend to flush very easily, so even if I manage to plaster on a fake smile and hold back the waterworks, the tingle creeps up and I look like my friend Char after half a glass of wine. So I sit there, all awkward body language and beet red, with a creepy smile and dead eyes, which I’m sure is the world’s most convincing performance. And people wonder why I drink.