I wear glasses that are not prescription. My glasses are not real, in the sense that they do not help me see, but saying they are not real is actually absurd. They are very real, based on our shared definition of what constitutes ‘glasses.’ They have frames. They have lenses inside those frames. They fit comfortably upon my face. They exist in the physical universe, so they are real. What they don’t have is an obvious purpose.
My glasses do not help me see. They do not allow me to perceive the world any better than I already do. What they do is allow the world to perceive me differently.
Recently, I wrote an essay about Lana Del Rey and her inherently inauthentic brand. I mocked her for her pretentions, yet I also wallow in my own similar need to be seen as transcending my limitations. She can be Lizzy Grant one day and Lana Del Rey the next. She can sing about situations and events she’s never actually experienced, because she is playing a part. She is performing. She is her brand, but her brand is not necessarily her. I cannot deny her the right to that brand or the metaphorical mask of artistic achievement she wears since my glasses serve a similar purpose.
We are all trapped in a culture that requires we define ourselves. Every one of us yearns to be special. The great irony is that we can never concisely communicate who we are. A human being is something different to everyone that exists inside his or her sphere of influence. To my mother, I will always be the baby who smeared mashed potatoes on his face. To my former lovers, I’m the guy whose spare house keys they still have on their keychain. To my co-workers, I’m the smug jerk who takes more than one bag of Doritos from the break room because he’s too cheap to buy lunch.
In order to combat this, I make a concerted effort to broadcast my interests. I desire to affect the conversations people are having about me in private, despite knowing that I’ll likely never experience the substance of the communication. Wearing glasses I don’t need is shorthand for all the quirks, eccentricities and insecurities I have that I want the world to use to define me.
In a sense, this is inauthentic. I do not need to wear glasses. I choose to wear glasses. I do not believe this is significantly different from a man putting a metal spike through his genitals in order to seem edgier or getting a tattoo of a dragon on his face. I am also striving to appear more interesting than I believe I am. I do this through wearing my glasses. The preconceived notions the world has about me are filtered through this deliberate prism of inauthentic accoutrement.
A lack of authenticity can be liberating in some ways, mostly in relationships. The more honest feeling you put into a romantic coupling, the greater the chance you have of being colossally disappointed by your partner. My intrinsic need to be vulnerable has allowed me to be perpetually heartbroken by a litany of women I expected to be ‘the one.’ Many of the women in my life ended up deciding to reject me after we shared a deep level of intimacy.
It’s often been said that my candor and emotional honesty are my strengths, but it rarely feels that way when dumped by someone you love. On the contrary, it feels like the very thing holding me back from being happy. After my most recent colossal romantic failure, I made it a point to hide. I’ve chosen to retreat from emotional entanglements and exist solely within myself.
Obviously, there is a disconnect between a man saying he wants to cease being vulnerable and a man saying that very same thing in public, on the internet. It’s highly contradictory, but contradiction and complexity might also be exactly what I want to project. All of these ‘confessions’ might be fabricated in order to generate sympathy and attention. Perhaps my brand is ‘complicated, confused loner.’ I could leave it up to the reader to decide, but that goes against what I firmly believe is true about myself. I am who I want to be, not who I am.
I decided to wear glasses because I want to be someone else. I don’t want to be the sad guy who got dumped by a girl. I’d much prefer being aloof, quiet and alone writing tales of woe for strangers to read. I can be the ‘troubled artist’ I’ve always admired. My glasses allow me to tell the world, rather than be told by it. My glasses define me, and the tragic realization is that I want to be fake, because being real is just too painful.
Plus, glasses make you look smarter.