Been toying with these thoughts for around a week now and it seems that they want to be written down. It’s a rare occasion in sl that i’m completely caught out. Wrong-footed, surprised and bemused, yes, and pretty frequently at that, but to come across something that knocks me right back and leaves me floundering somewhat, is not something that happens very often.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise either, since – in a manner of speaking – it was myself, in this particular instance, that whipped the rug right out from under my own feet.

Yet it all started completely innocently and without any hint of what was to come – it started with a conversation with a friend about this blog.

i’m always a bit surprised to find that people find my writing interesting – far more people than i’m willing to admit enjoy reading what gets squished out onto these pages, which i feel often resembles the aftermath of somebody going crazy with a toothpaste tube – other people rate these words far more highly than i do. That’s something i’m very grateful for, but nonetheless mystified about. The friend, with whom my conversation took place has been a faithful reader right from the very start, not just of this blog, but of its predecessor too and were firmly of the opinion that there is a marked, and positive, difference between my writing then and now.

OK, i can understand that – practice makes perfect, after all… but what i found a little harder to take on board was what was said next: In the same way that my writing has matured and become bolder, so apparently, have i.

i disagreed.

“Take a look at your old profile, and then tell me you haven’t changed” – came the response.

So i did. And it was like receiving a particularly vicious punch in the nose… courtesy of myself!

An explanation is possibly required at this point: Like so many others in sl, i have a skeleton in my closet – or more accurately, a retired avatar in my account. This ‘old me’ hasn’t had an outing for some considerable time and that’s not a state of affairs that i can ever see changing – in physical terms, there’s no difference; we share the same body and same skin and, as far as i was concerned, in everything but name we are essentially the same person. That was before i re-read my old profile – a snapshot in time from around two and half years ago – a profile in which i’d made the fundamental mistake of wearing my heart on my sleeve and believing that it was OK to be vulnerable in sl. Seeing those words that i’d written reminded me – like a slap in the face – that this brash, outgoing, opinionated and expressive individual is, essentially, just a very good actor and, whatever appearances today might seem to say, scratch the surface and you’ll find the scared, retiring, shy, insecure and fundamentally lost person that i really am lurking right there.

Can that be right? If someone who has known me and followed my every word for nearly three years thinks that i’ve changed dramatically and have scaled the medal table from also-ran to leading the field, then surely i must have changed?

Sorry to say it, but no: i’ve simply learned how to put on a façade so effective that sometimes even i forget that it’s there. In rl, i am very much the same person that i was when i penned that shockingly honest profile, but it’s so very easy to hide in sl and create the illusion of being in control that’s it’s no wonder that’s what i’ve done, and so effectively too!

Here’s the thing, though: i am not to be pitied for who and what i am – for this is me, and in a strange and – to some people – baffling, way i both accept myself as i am and, more importantly, i am as happy with my lot as any of the bright, beaming, happy-go-lucky brigade are with theirs. Yes, life is no bed of roses – but whose is? We all have our coping strategies and our ways of getting by, mine is no worse than anyone else’s – no matter what you may think.

As for the sl ‘me’ – she’s happy too. Much of it may be an illusion or an elaborately woven story that serves to draw the attention away from reality, but is that a bad thing in itself? Many of us go through our lives being something we’re not, or acting out a plot that is not of our making and most of us feel uncomfortable doing so… but we do what we have to, and get by. Why should sl be any different?

Have i changed? No, not at all – maybe it’s really your perception of me that has changed?

Before i finish, there’s a couple of links, i’d like to point you too – they are relevant to both sl and rl… if you’re interested, they can tell you more about me than i ever could – but they might just tell you something about yourself and some of those around you, as well!

The habits and needs of a little-understood group

How to live a quiet life in a noisy world

s. x

Terrified of telephones and shopping malls and knives, 
And drowning in the pools of other lives.
Rely a bit to heavily on alcohol and irony.
Get clobbered on by courtesy, in love with love, and lousy poetry.
The Weakerthans – Aside

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