Everyone's Dressed Like You: How Seeing Yourself On TV Can Change Your Life
You feel alone.
Maybe you know there's something wrong with you. Maybe you don't, but others think so, and tell you every day. Eventually, it sinks in. You start to believe them, much more than you believe in yourself. You don't know why they want you to be something you're not, something you couldn't even be if you tried.
You do try.
It doesn't work.
It's exhausting, trying to change your body, mind and heart into something it doesn't recognize. Struggling to copy, imitate, perform the life you're supposed to have, the one the world expects. Sometimes you want to be who everybody thinks you are, or wants you to be: a healthy, happy, functional person, able to relate to everybody else (or at least have them relate to you).
It would be wonderful to be easily, naturally included in stories and jokes and everything that everyone else seems to understand on a basic, automatic level. If life experiences were universal, and some things just went without saying.
But they aren't, and they don't. You're still on the outside looking in, and the world goes on without you.
You must be broken. Maybe you're just figuring it out. Maybe you always knew, for years, since the first time you realized there was a glass wall between you and the rest of the world. Maybe just at night when you're even more alone, and sleep has never seemed so far away.
Nobody sees your pain, because they don't expect to. Why would anyone hurt this way? They could never imagine it, because they never need to.
You watch a TV show.
It hurts too, sometimes. But not the way the rest of your life does.
It's not perfect, but usually you don't have to brace yourself for blows. You don't anticipate the next joke at your expense. The punchlines aren't a punch to the bridge of your nose. You laugh when you're meant to laugh, and nobody is laughing at you. You cry when the people on the screen cry, because you love them and you understand them and they're hurting, not because someone is hurting you.
The glass wall becomes a mirror—but not a distorted funhouse one that shows you only the worst parts of yourself. You're not the joke. But for the first time in your life, you get every. Single. One.
You're included. You're normal. It's no big deal. It's just how the world is, or should be.
This place is made for you. It's written with you in mind; as if you actually exist. Like you're watching this too, and you're real. (Of course you are. It goes without saying.)
Someone on that screen feels the same kind of pain you do. Someone's brain tries to kill them on a regular basis, becoming a cruel, unrelenting voice that never goes away, just gets drowned out sometimes.
Someone feels alone and lost in the same dark, scary woods, unsure of who he is or who he's even "allowed" to be. Someone laughs the way you do, because he thinks Andrew Garfield loving lasagna and hating Mondays is the best thing ever.
Someone had the same harrowing, fear-filled childhood, where the walls shook whenever their father slammed a door. Someone sees their self-hatred boil over and start to poison others, so they run, terrified of continuing cycles and inflicting pain they should never have felt.
You know these people. You've been them.
You could stay awake with them until the sun came up, talking about your lives and fears and dreams, and understand every word like getting every joke. Or just sit with them in silence, comfortable in your too-rare, precious common ground.
You never knew how important it was to see yourself reflected on a TV screen. You've never felt so heard, seen, validated, and loved. You weren't imagining your pain; it's real to others too.
You find a community full of people who have the same broken edges, repairing them together—or realizing they were never broken at all. You find the place you're supposed to be, and realize that you were already who you were always supposed to be.
(And if you're not the person you want to be yet, keep going. It gets easier.)
You're a little more okay. You're not alone anymore.
You look up, and everyone's dressed like you.
Note: This article uses a series of screencaps from Netflix's BoJack Horseman.