Deborah Ross: 'I do not want to see my true self'

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, all this Eat, Pray, Love business about having to search for your "true self" is all very well, but what if your true self turns out to be a complete dick? I once encountered my true self and, I'm telling you, I took one look at it, and thought: this is bad, bad news.

I remember exactly when and where I encountered it, as it's not one of those things you easily forget. It was on Monday, May 25, 1992, and it was going upstairs as I was coming down. "Hello," I said. "Hello," it said. "I'm your true self." "You look like a complete dick," I said. "I am," it said, "and I'm also a nasty bit of work." Luckily, it being a Monday in May – I always carry a blanket around with me on Mondays in May – I managed to get the blanket over its head, bring it to the ground, and drag it to the cellar, where it's been locked up ever since. Sometimes, I hear it pounding on the door, shouting "Let me out!" but I will not. I do not want to see my true self, just as I do not want others to see my true self, and also, this fake self I've been building all these years? Where is that meant to go to? Florida? My fake self and I muddle along happily enough, in our fake kind of way, saying fake things – "I'm so pleased you've got a massive advance for your book; you so deserve it" – and generally behaving in a thoroughly fake manner which includes affecting patience while the person ahead at the cashpoint takes forever – what are they doing? – or stopping for pitifully slow old ladies on zebra crossings.

This kind of behaviour incenses my true self who, on my return, will shout up from the cellar. "YOU SHOULD HAVE JUST STABBED THEM BOTH!" And, "THE TROUBLE WITH YOU IS THAT YOU JUST DON'T STAB PEOPLE ENOUGH! LET ME OUT, AND I'LL STAB THEM FOR YOU!"

So this is why it is sometimes best to keep your true self locked away or, as my fake self says: "I wouldn't mind Florida, actually. This is quite hard work." (PS: Never go on a voyage of self-discovery; I went on one in 1996 and it was most disappointing, with no evening entertainment and, also, no quoits.)