“Fake it ’til you make it!” the wisdom goes. In other words: if you don’t feel like you are what you want to be, just act in the role and it will eventually become reality. Dress in the clothes. Talk the talk. Spend time with the people. Do the things. Pretend if you have to.
I’m a fan of this thinking, but I’ve decided that there is an even stronger idea. Cosplay yourself.
Cosplay is basically what we’ve all done on Halloween. You dress up as someone. But, for cosplayers, Halloween happens all year round. These people go to astounding lengths to bring their visions to life, which is much more in tune with what we are trying to accomplish with ourselves.
The problem with “faking it” is that you are fake. It has this aspect of being an imposter. The intention is to get you to be bold. As you are bold, you find that you actually were able to do the thing all along. Your powers come from within. But, sometimes we have problems getting over the fake part.
I find that cosplayers provide some excellent inspirations for becoming. Maybe they will resonate with you, too.
1. You identify with what inspires you
When cosplayers come out, they connect with what inspires them. They seem to delight in being recognized as their characters. People call them by that name and take pictures with them. It’s OK if there are other Spidermen or Wonder Women. It’s OK that the costumes may come from different eras of the character. It’s OK if some costumes are more party quality than film quality. It’s all about honoring that vision as best as one can.
We need to be true to the vision, and not worry about what others are doing, except to be inspired by them. It’s always about realizing the vision as well as you can. Even though the casual observer might see a group as all the same, the discerning observer will find the nuances that make us a special connection for them. Your variation, your uniqueness is an asset.
2. It’s not about perfection
People bring varying degrees of resourcefulness and artistic skill to their creations. Even those attempts that are considered “bad” are recognized. People still take pictures. Do they know they don’t look like the costume in the movie? Of course, they do! While some of them might be considered extra-optimistic, they came out of the house; they took it out on the street. They let the mask lend them a little extra courage to let go and have fun with it. It was likely a positive, memorable experience. If nothing else, it was a day out of the dreary treadmill of the ordinary.
We usually worry too much about perfection. We make the plan and want to execute the plan. Ultimately it is about whether or not the goals are achieved. Learn the lessons when things go astray, but don’t forget the actual goals. It’s OK if things get a little ridiculous from time to time. Strike the pose and be the thing. Your passion may transcend whatever you think of as imperfections.
3. You can mix it up
One of the things that cosplayers like to do is witty mashups. They combine ideas for puns, like Ash Wednesday, above. They gender bend. They play with time. They play with genres. Anything that can be imagined is fair game. Not everyone will get it. Some will need it explained. Even then, some will go “Meh.” But some subset will fully appreciate the creativity and cleverness that went into realizing that vision.
We are encouraged to be pure, to be one thing. There is a wonderful quote from science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
“Specialization is for insects.”— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love[
Marketing teaches that we need to be a box on the shelf with a single, recognizable thing. That may be true from a marketing perspective. However, humans are not made to be just one thing. Our curiosity, our multifaceted nature, our ability to try and do many different things make us naturally diverse. A laser focus might help you achieve a type of success, but what will you leave behind?
Consider that if it feels right to you to combine some things that may be uncommon that you should listen to those feelings. Again, your unique set of flavors will create something that no one else can be. Just because something’s never been done doesn’t mean that it can’t be. Allow your inspirations to come from several different directions and combine them in a way that no one else has considered. Once people experience your version, it may be that everyone wants one! You may inspire others with something they believed was impossible.
Manifesting our paths is an amazing act of creation. Some visions do require some precision and attention to detail. Some are more intuitive and flowing. In either case, it’s not about faking, it’s about realizing. Understand that you are always making it, no faking required. Let yourself be inspired by these cosplayers to bring your vision to life. If some days that works better in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle outfit, then “Cowabunga!”