How do we misplace the love we once had for ourselves? Now the love that Narcissus felt for himself—that we are so charismatic we are drawn only to ourselves, that no one other than ourselves is worthy of our affections—is not the type of self-love I speak of; rather, I’ve been thinking about the flavor of self-love that manifests itself as the little voice in our heads that says, “Let’s get up today and be awesome; let’s get up today and do something daring; let’s get up today and tell the people we love that we love them and that they should love us back because we are worthy of love.” Indeed, it’s the self-love we grant ourselves so that we may love others, for how can we love others if we do not first love ourselves?

I’m not sure how I lose mine from time to time, but there are definitely days or weeks where I would rather stay in bed than get up and have to struggle to convert the pains of loneliness into the joys of solitude, to find my inner charisma, to love myself. Most of us call this depression, something that ails 1 out of 10 American adults according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). In fact, type “how many Americans are af” into a basic Google search, and you’ll notice that the intellisense/auto-suggestion lists “How many Americans are affected by depression” at the top of the list of suggestions, prompting me to believe that of all of the possible options, depression is the most popular query that begins with “how many Americans are af___.” Considering the amount of adults such as myself who do not / have not sought psych services or have not been officially diagnosed, I’m sure 10% is a somewhat conservative estimate. I’m not sure why I haven’t taken advantage of the psych services department at my university, but I am sure of what I can do on my own that helps—and, by the way, by no means am I advocating this as a substitute for professional help, but—I pretend to be someone who I’m not.

This is how I begin to love myself again. When I’m in that lonely and depressed daze, I’m not myself, not the person I want to be, so I pretend to be the person I want to be. I pretend that my goal for the day was to get up and just be awesome (it helps to channel your inner Neil Patrick Harris while doing this). I pretend that I’m confident. I always put my best shirts on and walk from place to place with a smile on my face. I immerse myself in the façade of me and, slowly but surely, convert the façade into reality. Eventually I remember that we should always leave the house with our best shirts on; why save our best shirts for the moments when we expect to meet someone new, because we never know when those moments will come. Always wear your sexy underwear. Earn the eyes that fall on you when you get up to order another drink. Pretend you love to dance because you might, actually, love it. Trust me. You’ll notice a lot more glances and feel even better when you get them. Sometimes we have to pretend to be the person we’re not to rediscover who we are.

Pocket Muse Prompt: “Write about someone who is trying to be someone or something that they’re not.”