By Jodi Botha
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperors’ New Clothes is a tale about an emperor who was so obsessed with his clothing and the image he presented to his subjects, that he allowed himself to be duped by two sneaky weavers. They told the emperor that they could create the most magnificent clothing for him, clothing that would be invisible to all of his subjects who were unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent.
True to form for this moral tale, the clothes appear invisible to the emperor (since they don’t exist) and the Emperor, as well as all of his subjects, pretend to make a fuss over his glorious attire while the man strides naked through the town centre.
No-one wanted to be the person who is “unfit, stupid or incompetent” so they blindly followed the lead of their emperor and they all pretended together.
Until, of course, an innocent child cries out that the emperor is naked
This cry is taken up by a few more of the subjects and the emperor suspects that this is indeed, the truth, but continues with his pretence, nonetheless.
“You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it” – Alan Moore, V for Vendetta
Sometimes it’s just easier to keep pretending
The work that it takes to be honest, original and authentic may very well feel like it is a journey, against the grain.
It is difficult, in this life, to commit to your true self against the backdrop of Emperors whose approval you may need, other subjects whose opinions do matter, and sneaky weavers who know this about us and use it to their advantage.
The problem with pretending, is that it comes with a discomfort that is itchy, in all the wrong places.
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion” – Rumi
Fashion, celebrities, political leaders and society …
… they all expect something of you, but not one of those four elements will be around forever or will remain unchanged.
Fashion changes. Celebrities fall in and out of favour – as do politicians. Society’s rules and expectations are forever ebbing and flowing to include and exclude certain expectations. We are an ocean of people with rules and fancies that are continually changing.
So why should you pretend to see clothes that do not exist just because everyone else is doing it?
We risk the very real embarrassment of being caught out by an ‘innocent child’s comment’ if we just go with the flow, because it is ‘easier’.
Which consequence would you rather live with?
The consequence of being lauded as an outsider for not pretending? Or the consequence of being caught out (even though you’re in a crowd) buying into something that is make-believe?
“I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations” Beatrix Potter
You are the universe, in ecstatic motion and your voice matters. Your influence matters. You never know what might transpire if you just step away from the crowd for a moment and have your own say.