I do it less often now because I am around people much less. As a child, it was more about finding people who seemed confident and happy and imagining myself in their place. By the time I was a young teenager, appearance entered the scene as well.
I didn’t want to be in this body with this mind.
I hated this skin, this hair, these features, this misery, this fear and this life.
I imagined swapping bodies and lives with people who seemed “perfect”. I would sit in class and imagine their friends around me. I’d imagine what it would be like to go home to their place and be around their family. I didn’t even have to know their family situation, their happiness, beauty and confidence made me think they must have had a perfect life.
I didn’t want these scars, but I kept adding to them. I didn’t want to be so shy but I was too scared to risk drawing attention to myself. I wondered how these confident people would cope in a broken and lonely home. I wondered what they would do if their friends purposely excluded them. I didn’t want to try. I didn’t want to be anything. I kept my sleeves down.
It still happens. I’ll see someone and based off a quick assessment, I’ll wish I could trade places with them. It doesn’t matter if they have crappy lives too, I want to trade with their moment, not their past or their future.
It happened a lot in hospital with the younger nurses and psychologists. I would wonder what it would be like to be the one listening and offering advice or what it would be like to (at least appear to) be calm, focused, energetic, positive and “normal”. I would think that if someone who was fairly together got plonked into my life, maybe they would be able to handle things better and everything would even out. Then, maybe if I looked like them and had all of what they had, I would somehow be able to get myself out of my misery and fear.
I know the logical way out of this is to look at people who are less fortunate but my mind doesn’t work that way. I feel empathy and sympathy for these people but I can’t or wont imagine what it would be like to swap lives with them because I know that I struggle enough with the life I currently have and I would probably would completely crumble in a worse situation. In a weird way I guess that grounds me.