What Disguises Do You Wear?


The guy dressed as a construction worker was begging me for money. It was 5am and I was on the corner of Wall Street and Broad. To my left was the New York Stock Exchange and in front of me were the steps where George Washington took his oath of office. Policemen with dogs were patrolling.

The guy had a hard hat on, looked dirty as if he had been working day and night in the holes and underground ecosystem that powers NYC with its wires, its sewage, its steam, its electricity.  “C’mon guy,” he said, “my buddies left and now I just need $10 to get back to Staten Island because my wife is sick and I have to skip my shift this morning.”

Not only did he have his hard hat on he had that orange vest with the yellow stripe so that people could see him in the dark. He had every appearance of a construction worker. I reached into my pocket. “Thanks a lot, dude,” he said. But then I saw one of the cops with the dogs shake his head “no”. I said, “I don’t have anything, sorry.” And the construction worker said, “C’mon man, my wife is sick, I just need $10 to get the ferry.”

But I walked on. I went up to the cop he shook his head no. “That guy is here every day,” he said. “He’s not a construction worker.”

The sun started to come up. This was in March, 2009. The stock market was still crashing. The unemployment rate was skyrocketing. I was about to get fired from something. From many things. I was making money from about four different sources, some of them competing. All of them would fire me within a month. I was scared.

(the New York Stock Exchange)

I looked back behind me, the construction worker was talking to someone else. An older guy, in a suit, and a hat. I didn’t want to be an older guy in a suit and a hat. The guy was reaching into his pocket for money. The cop was nowhere to be seen. The sun was up.

Everybody is in disguise. Who will you be in disguise as today? A good father? A good husband? A maniac? A good neighbor? A bored friend? An ambitious partner? An up-and-coming employee? What suit will you put on? How will you beg the world for your piece of it? What cops will circle around and try to prevent you from getting what you want?

If only I could want nothing, beg for nothing – then nobody would stop me.

A year later I moved away from Wall Street. Recently TEDxWallStreet asked me to speak. I looked down the list of speakers. Do I really want to be around these people? Do I really want to go back to that exact spot (the New York Stock Exchange). “We’re trying to give a good impression of Wall Street,” the sponsor said to me, “so think of something to say along those lines.” Did I really want to do that?

I said “yes”.

Then a week before the event I said, “no”. I said I honestly had nothing to say.

That same day TEDxHuntsville in Huntsville, Alabama asked me to speak on September 9. I’ve never been to Alabama but I’m an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in Alabama the way Colonel Sanders is just an Honorary Colonel in Kentucky. How did I get to be an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in Alabama even though I have never set foot in that state? When I was 12 I wrote to the governor and lied and said I was about to move there (I lived in suburban NJ and both my parents commuted to NYC),  and that I loved the state of Alabama and nothing would make me happier than being an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel there (I had done my research on every honorarium every state offered: I’m an Honorary Colonel in Mississippi, an Honorary Citizen of Texas, an Honorary whatever in many states).

(never an actual Colonel. Interesting trivia: he started KFC at age 65)

So I went into disguise and I begged and got what I wanted. The construction guy didn’t. TEDxWallStreet didn’t get what they wanted. But I said, “yes” to TEDxHuntstillve even though its 1000 miles away.

I don’t want to wear disguises anymore. If I don’t have anything to say, I won’t say it. I’m not going to sell anything any more but the truth. I’m not going to spend money on things that were disguised as things they aren’t (is coke “the real thing” for instance?) I’m not going to be friends with people wearing disguises. I’m not going to live in a place that’s just a disguise to hide some insecurity. I’m not going to be angry at people struggling with their own disguises.

And what are my disguises today?

Angry thoughts from events that took place years ago? Thoughts of “I could’ve done X, Y, or Z ?” in the distant past. Worries of the future? Reactions to what people say about me? Feelings like “I have to respond to just this one comment!” I think back to all the disguises I’ve worn. I’ve been a master of disguise. Hiding big lies, small lies, white lies, black lies.

All of our misery comes from wanting at all costs to remain Tom, Dick, and Jane. Normal. Our molecules, our atoms, want to burst out but we squeeze them tight inside with our mental constipation. The real ME must never be seen or I will be laughed at, sneered at, abandoned, and Poverty will wipe itself  with the last microbes that are left of me. I get scared.

Most of Peter Parker’s stress was that he had to hide his Spiderman identity. This body of ours, this disguise, is in constant revolt against the abominable scam of having to endure.We don’t need to do that anymore. When you take the disguises off, the superficial feelings of failure, of anger, of sadness that society has programmed into us- when you just peel the past off and refuse to worry about the future, you become the superhero you were meant to be. The first person you then save is yourself. Then the world down below will see you swinging free, from rooftop to rooftop.

TEDxHuntsville told me I could speak about whatever I wanted.  I’m  going to go to a place I’ve never gone before and speak about something I’ve never  spoken about before. And if every day I keep shedding my disguises, a practice my mind will try and refuse to give me the courage to do, maybe I can say something I’ll be proud of.

[What disguises do you think you wear?]

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  • Jim Crawford

    James, as a parent, I wonder if you ever asked yourself what your (or children in general) kids might be like if they weren’t taught the limits we learned? I wonder that myself, regardless of the fact that my wife and I decided not to have kids.

    The masks you speak of are fitted to our hearts almost as soon as we come out of the womb, and it is a brutal path to let them go. I imagine you know that path well.

    Do you think, as people in our society, the we want to let those masks go? To do so leaves us faced with a greater identity, sense of possibilities, and responsibility as Human Beings. It is beautiful, terrible, frightening, and leaves us with nowhere to stand but where we decide to stand.

    Yoda said it well. “Luminous beings are we.”

    Thank you for challenging us to be bright.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I wonder, Jim. I think the disguises were initially put there as armor, to protect both ourselves and our parents (and society). And the armor got built into our minds, our egos, our bodies, so now they are so difficult to let go. Its a non-stop effort. 

      I think in general society does not want to let go of its masks. They are TOO protective. And often taking off the masks subject us to scorn and the anger of our peers and family. 

      And yet each disguise and mask we rid ourselves of give us more and more power over the guards. It just takes time to realize that.

      • http://twitter.com/PratPreneur Prat Agarwal

        Completely agreed! Disguises are put as useful things in the start, and it’s kind of a good thing. It’s also the journey to shedding these disguises that becomes very important after that. I don’t think you want to see a 16 year old without disguise (or maybe I’m too cynical).

  • Alexis M.

    My disguise is that of an enthusiastic mother and wife who so happily gave up her dreams, goals, and somewhere along the way, her entire identity, to do what is best for her children. I literally get nauseous every time someone tells me what a great mother I am, because I know it’s all fake. I know how much I loathe every minute of it. My cute little status updates about play dates and ballet recitals disgust me. If they only knew the truth, I can’t even imagine what they would call me.

    I hate them all for for making me wear this disguise. I hate them for forcing me to play the part of something I’m not. And I hate me for playing along.

    My children didn’t force this disguise on me. They’re just children. They view the girl who works at our starbucks, their millionaire uncles, the bum on the corner and a talking yellow sponge all with equal acceptance,  I wish I had your courage James. I wish I could shed my disguises and swing from rooftop to rooftop. My children might be better off if I had the guts to stop playing “mother” and just be me.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Alexis, you just did shed your disguise. It’s an ongoing practice, little by little, day by day. It takes great courage to even acknowledge the disguises. You have a lot of courage. 

    • Nfamous365


      I think this process is best taken in baby steps. Pick one disguise today and decide to shed it. If status updates disgust you then stop doing them today. Start small & eventually you will find that you have changed your life completely. 

    • http://justbeyondthebend.com Joe Dudas

      Maybe a disguise. But that also makes you selfless and a hero to your children. Many heroes (and superheroes) need disguises.

      • http://twitter.com/arthur_vandelay Arthur Vandelay Jr.

         Hear hear

      • Dsf

         Well said

      • MidasTouch

        Keep lying to yourself.  Maybe you’ll believe it.

    • Guest

      Felt that way too Alexis. Just swing from rooftop to rooftop with those kids. Motherhood is one of the most under appreciated but most important job there is, just keep the authentic “you” in there. It teaches them to be real too. I found most of those “moody groups” full of phony balony bull. You don’t have to please them, just yourself. I bet you’ll love the real you.

      James, love your article. Very insightful.

      • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

        I completely disagree with motherhood not being respected. Maybe it’s it valued. By some, but if you take a closer look those that do not value motherhood also don’t value nature, human rights, justice, etc.

        Motherhood is valued in the eyes of those who love you and those who look to you for guidance and unconditional love.

        I think we have been brainwashed to buy into the concept that “‘motherhood is not repected.” – when instead we should seek out those who show disrespect and ilimiate them from our lives and put the into the catagory of “crappy people.”

        • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

           * Maybe it’s not valued by some,……

    • ReportingLife

      Your kids will respect you even more if you’re just real and yourself and not fake.

      Kids know anyway.  Other moms know too.   

      So don’t waste anymore energy being something you’re not.  In the long run, it will just make you more unhappy and ill.

      Your kids can feel it the same way you can.  They have intuition and clairvoyance, just like you do when you know something is wrong with them.

      Just be real and keep loving them.   That’s all they want anyway.

    • http://twitter.com/arora_rish Rishabh Arora

      You, indeed, have A LOT of courage. I’ve been there, and now out of it to a great extent. As James says in his comment, little by little, with some effort on your part, it drops off.

      My own experience is that once you are constantly aware of your un-naturalness, which takes a HUGE courage, you gradually drop your masks automatically.The MOST beautiful part about this is that once you start dropping masks, however small they may be, you will never look back again. ‘Coz it’s such a bliss. Really. It will never be able to catch you again. It seems ‘logically’ impossible to me.

      Drop a few masks, small masks, maybe, to start. Everyone will try to mould you back, chain you back. They CERTAINLY will. They’ll look with sneaky eyes, make awkward expressions, when they see the change. But, if you are persistent, they’ll be inspired (its just a matter of a little time), and they’ll be motivated to drop their masks too.

      If that’s happened with me, I think it can happen with anyone.

      Here’s something I read a few weeks back:

      “In the beginning it is only an effort to be that which you are not; slowly slowly you start pretending too that you are becoming that which you are not, because to encounter failure continuously is very humiliating. At least you can pretend to others, you can wear masks, you can create a certain persona, a facade… and people will look only at your mask and they will believe it, and once they start believing it — you will start believing it — because they are believing that you are holy, that you are saintly, that you are this and you are that.It is a very strange game: you start it, and soon you will be caught in it yourself — in your own lie! And once you are caught in your own lie you will try to hide the truth, to evade the truth, to repress the truth; you will begin investing more and more in your lie.

      You can try to be unnatural, but your nature will assert itself in a thousand and one ways; it will come up again and again. You will have to hush it, you will have to repress it…..”

      – Osho

      (Here’s the complete text: http://goo.gl/erkp4)

      (It’s already a huge comment, sry for that, but) This time around, ‘sacrifice’ your disguises for your kids’ inspiration. So, they also are inspired to drop all masks / hypocrisies.Be the kind of mother everyone thinks you are. You inspire your kids to be their true self, and whatever everyone else thinks, you Know that you are doing something really great for your kids sake.

      And, keep reading this blog, this guy is drowning in awareness, and he plans to take millions along. ;)

      Have fun! :)

    • Marc


      Do you have a partner/spouse who you can share this with? If so, do it immediately and make them understand you need to have a life outside the kids.

      I’m incredibly fortunate that my wife gets this and lets me pursue my passion. I do the same for her. Do the kids get upset that I occasionally can’t spend time with them because I’m doing this other thing? Absolutely. But they also see that their Dad has a rich and full life and is pursuing his dreams. That’s a valuable lesson as I always want them to pursue theirs.

    • AvidConfidentialReader

      Your comment is clearly striking a chord with many.  There is such a confilict of emotions for most women when they give up career to devote themselves to raising children.  I did not leave the workforce when my children were small.  I was fortunate enough to be able to continue professional work on a part-time basis and still be the primary caregiver to three children.  But any “serious” career that I had was over.  My focus was entirely on raising kids. In hindsignt, I wish I had managed both better.  However, being there 100% of the time for the kids was only part of the reason that I did it.  It was a big part of it but if I am completely honest with myself part of the reason was that I wasn’t that serious about my career in the first place.  And when your husband can put a roof over your head and food on the table, you don’t feel the pressure to “support a family”.  And then, if you’re honest about all your reasons, it furthers makes you feel bad about yourself.  I recently read a book called 168 Hours.  It is basically a time management book but it addresss issues of working mothers very logically.  You start by asking yourself what is important to you.  Then you can better decide how to best use your time to have a successful life based on what you value.  Many (most) mothers spend precious time on things that are not really important to them or to their kids. Figure out what you value and how to optimize your time to nurture kids and yourself.  Cut out anything that does not further your goals.  Putting and end to FB status updates should make you feel better immediately and put a little time in each day for you to take care of yourself.  Chin up.

      • AvidConfidentialReader

        And I wouldn’t call this a disguise. Its just that you’ve chosen a path and you are not happy with the way you are travelling it.  Of course you want to take care of your kids but you need something else too.  Parenting is very often a thankless job.  You sacrifice so much that you put expectations on them that they should be grateful and they usually are not.  Like you said, they did not ask you to do this and I think most kids would rather their parents have a life in addition to them.  Change course just a little bit and you will all be happier. The happiest kids I know are the ones whose mothers have rich and full lives – and also make the kids a priority.  It creates better relationships.

    • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

      Dear Alexis,
      You are far too hard on yourself.  I feel for you, because it’s an awful place to be when you feel you do not have control over your own life….But this is a step of sorts, you letting all your current feelings become words. 

      Remember when you are in a dark place like this reality is skewed, little issues become huge and everything is over-whelming. 

      This is temporary and you will get through this, you only need to follow a path that fits your life better.

      btw: FB is filled wit people pretending – You can live a full life without FaceBook. <- FB downfall, it is totally unnecessary.


  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    Thank you Jen. I really appreciate it. I always get a little nervous hitting “Publish” and I wait (my own disguise perhaps, taking hold) until I see a comment like yours. So thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/JenMaidenberg Jen Maidenberg

      I know exactly what you mean. Keep pushing past your comfort zone. 

      I wrote the following recently in a blog post called “Be Kind to Writers.”There’s something distinctive about writers: We can’t stop telling our stories. Not even if we try. Not even if we promise this will be the very last time we wear our heart on our virtual sleeve. Not even if we swear up and down that’s the last secret we’re going to reveal. Not even when we get hate mail or ugly comments. Not even when our hearts beat hard in our chest and our breath quickens and every instinct in our body says, “Don’t hit ‘submit.’ …
      Deep down, a writer knows the story he tells is not just his story. It’s our story. It’s the story of the human experience.  

  • Kate

    i really like your writing, James.  You always make me think.  So here, I cannot help but realize that my ‘disguise’ is completely the opposite of most people.  Literally, I tone down the happy and the optimistic because so many people cannot deal with it.   I am not delusional, I am just happy.  It’s who i am.  I have down moments and i get sad, sure, but that lasts usually a day at the MOST and i pop back up like a buoy held under water and let go.

    And what you wrote about in another post – i listen to people and genuinely want to know them and how they got to be who they are.  Now you have given me a context for what i have been lucky enough to witness first hand.  The amazing moment when, listening to someone talk through their disguise, the light bulb goes on and they realize – they HAVE the power to take it off.  It’s not so much even that people are afraid of not being themselves, but that they have no idea who they are and that they can even be something different than others have defined for them. 

    You have helped so many people with this post – i am sure there are a lot of light bulbs turning on today :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That’s a good way to put it, Kate – your comment about listening. Listening is like a way to see through the disguises. 

  • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng

    Good choice! Alabama sounds fantastic. Reminds me of Forrest Gump.

  • tse

    My disguise is a smart guy. A successful one. It’s all a lie. I don’t want to work on my business. I don’t want to earn money. I don’t care about money. I don’t care about success or fame. I just want to live without any expectations or obligations. 

    But I do have them. From my parents, friends, relatives… everybody I know has these huge expectations of me. I must accomplish this and that. And having had these expectations ever since I was 2 years old, it has become my disguise. But it’s all a big lie… 

  • http://courtreportinglife.typepad.com/court-reporting-life/2012/05/the-importance-of-sameness.html ReportingLife

    I guess I’m wearing a mask on my blog, but that’s only because I work full time and I don’t want to hurt my job.

    I have no clue what I’m doing with my blog.  I’m just writing because it feels right.  I wouldn’t know the “real” me to reveal anyway.  I feel like I’m just being me, but in two places…my day life and then my blog.

  • https://perrocontodo.myopenid.com/ David

    My disguise? Whatever my parents want me to be. Good student? Nice son? Quiet boy? No problem.

    Now I’m a parent myself. And a husband. And an employee. And a friend. And I find myself tweaking my new disguises all the time. Learning new tricks. Hiding.

    Because, like you said James, it scares the shit out of me that they might find out the real me. It scares to be alone. It scares not to be loved.

    I struggle with the fact that there’s one person that already loves me endlessly. That already knows who I am. I shouldn’t need disguises for him. I’ll never be alone. That person is ME.

    P.S: You did it again man. You brought tears to my eyes. Not only because of what you wrote, but because you made me think. Thanks dude.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jcsalazar Carlos Salazar

    Hell of a post. Hopefully you will post a link to the conference.

    Greetings from Mexico.

  • boo

    How are your posts always so timely? (I imagine the answer is that they’re timeless).

    I realized recently that I avoid spending time around people I truly admire because the less you see someone, the easier it is to maintain the disguise that you, too, are admirable. Which means I spend more time around people I don’t like as much. So dumb.

  • Nick

    This is very good. I’ve been starting to shed my disguises recently, because it’s finally dawning on me how much of an obstacle they are to my happiness. The real me just wants to write, do volunteer work, and spend time with my girlfriend and our friends. But in the way of that is the illusion of an educated, successful member of Corporate America’s “knowledge economy”, which resembles the real me less and less every day.

  • http://www.TeenDreamCenter.com/ Tresaca

    James, I look forward to meeting you and hearing you speak at the TEDxHuntsville event.           I am so happy you decided to do a TEDx event! Thanks for another great article!

  • MarkGEster

    James how cute you try so hard, but you’re not a very good writer.

    • Roy

      He is a great writer…thats why he has thousands of readers daily…

      No writer will appeal to everyone….no speaker will appeal to everyone

      Besides….if you arent a better writer…then you shouldnt be criticising

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1296301372 Wil Stahl

    Big fan of both you and TED… looking forward to that cocktail! 

    Say something for your daughters to keep forever.

  • http://mefrain.blogspot.com/ Efrain

    I wonder, does your mom ever read any of this? I think most  of the disguises we have is because of our parents. We always want to please them. Make them proud. I wish I could just be myself and say the hell with what my parents think.

  • http://twitter.com/priteshdesai Pritesh Desai

    Awesome James, looking forward to your Ted speech!

  • http://www.therawness.com/ T. AKA Ricky Raw

    Most of Peter Parker’s stress was that he had to hide his Spiderman identity. This body of ours, this disguise, is in constant revolt against the abominable scam of having to endure.We don’t need to do that anymore. When you take the disguises off, the superficial feelings of failure, of anger, of sadness that society has programmed into us- when you just peel the past off and refuse to worry about the future, you become the superhero you were meant to be. The first person you then save is yourself. Then the world down below will see you swinging free, from rooftop to rooftop.

    Figuring out that the disguise is a problem is only the start. Jung talked about it with the persona. Winnicott, Kohut, Lowen and others talked about it with the false self. Freud called it the ego ideal, Karen Horney’s idealized self, the Buddha discusses this…this concept of the disguises we wear in our everyday lives has been discussed by many great thinkers for millenia, even in the Bible.

    The problem is how to shed the false self, how to define yourself without your disguise. Most people can’t or are afraid to discover and embrace who their true selves are, and until they become comfortable with that the benefit of maintaining their disguises will always outweigh the benefit of shedding them. People are too wracked with self-hatred of their true selves to ever really commit to shedding their disguises. Heinz Kohut called this dilemma disintegration anxiety, and it truly is real.

  • lila26

    This is the best writing I’ve seen in years.  Keep it up.

    • lila26

      Also I learned to read (taught myself to read Moby Dick and Heidi) when I was two years old, so yes I have been reading for a long time.  Big smiles!

  • Cliff

    Awesome! I live in Athens, right next to Huntsville. Go to the Space and Rocket Center while you’re here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Mcg/100003747444967 Mike Mcg

    I don’t do disguises but I love attitude costumes and play, spidey is a great one to borrow. May you swing freely and jump from rooftop to rooftop at TEDxHuntsville, or whatever else you wish.
    Thanks for the inspirational writing.
    All the best!

  • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

    Might your disguise be a guy who doesn’t wear a disguise?

    I like Jack Lalanne’s disguise best.  He famously said, “I can’t die, it’ll ruin my image.” 

    Maybe yours and Jacks aren’t all that different. 

  • Pete

    This is the process we call growing up. You are maturing now. What you think so wonderful today may not be the same thing when you are 75, definitely not the same thing when you were 16. You sound like a priest claiming you found the true meaning of life. But it is just your life, not everyone’s. Did you think about why that construction worker was doing what he was doing? His condition? The meaning of his life?
    For your reference, you got this far is because your parent had to take care of you, feed you, send you to school, teach you how to write, so that you can turn out so much garbage on the net. By the way, I also glanced your piece about college and SAT, I just don’t believe a thing you said. Suppose you got a cancer in your testicle, you don’t go to neighborhood butcher shop to cut it out. You go to see a reputable surgeon, who actually need a good college degree and SAT score to cut it out for you. So think a bit more and deeper.

  • Spiderman

    Just yesterday i dropped my disguise as a always happy, living happily with my wife and child disguise to a friend for the first time and told the truth, that i’m going crazy over my wife, that our relationship is sinking and i’m unhappy. I’ve slept better than in a long time!

  • http://www.LandmarkTaxGroup.com/ Landmark Tax Group

    This post reminds me of a line from Jim Carrey’s “The Mask” when Ben Stein’s character says “We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking”.   So true. 

  • Charrele

    this is article is epic.  I am shedding my disguises today!!!  Thanks for this at a crossroad in my life and I was wondering what I needed to do.  You helped me with my decision.

  • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

    I don’t think I wear a disguise, because to be honest, I think it would be way to much effort for me.  I don’t care enough to fake it.  I learned a long time ago that some people are not going to like you…..but in reality what I figured out is they weren’t people I liked anyway.  As my husband likes to say, “it’s all about shared values.” 

    Love me or leave me, and I will do the same.

    On second thought;  I guess that brings me to the pleasant mask, biting the tongue mask,  when I am in situations where it’s better to stay quiet than cause a non-meaningful argument.

  • http://RogerEllman.com/ Roger Ellman

    Neat, honest, good, clever and most of all – wise. Great advice revealed, undisguised. Thanks.

  • Mia

    I used to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect lawyer. A cheerleader and a math geek in one person. On the outside. But inside, I was a zombie. Until one day when I just couldn’t take it any more: I was offered a job at the justice department in my country and I heard a voice in my head that said – ‘if you take this job, you’ll die’. True story. So I went home and told my family and friends that I would rather scrub toilets than take that job. They laughed and thought I was joking. I wasn’t joking. So I quit everything in my life. I quit my job, most of my ‘friends’, some of my family members.
    For a few years, it was really, really tough financially, I barely had enough to eat. Tougher still was that I felt like I’d also lost my identity and became a social outcast. I had been forcing myself to conform to societal expectations since I was 3, so I didn’t even know what *I* liked. But at least, I was free. And once you taste that freedom, you can never go back. Little by little I started to rebuild my life. I discovered how much I liked nature – so now I own a tiny organic farm where I grow most of my own food. I discovered how much I liked computers, so I taught myself to program. I discovered that I’m a highly visual person so I created a new career for myself in digital video editing.
    For me, the grass truly is a lot greener on the other side of the fence, but I have to warn you, climbing that fence will cost you. On the other hand, if you stay put, you’ll pay with your life.

    • MidasTouch

      I think that you severely under emphasized how really, really tough and painful the process is.  Fortunately, I would rather take the pain to find the real me than to maintain the disguise.  

      Don’t be fooled.  The process is really, really hard, but rewarding.

    • Ron

      I know exactly what you mean. I did basically the same thing and people thought I was crazy. Those same people are also not very happy…most of them don’t even realize it because they have just become so conditioned to the expectations of others.

  • ClaudiaYoga

    My disguise is that I want the state of yoga, so I will go up and practice my asanas and try to live in the present and be here. I will probably get upset that my mind takes over, and in the process get out of the moment, out of presence.  Wish I an give up the fight!

  • http://profiles.google.com/sharmaanmol Anmol Sharma

    James, my friend, you are a real man. Respect to you for being yourself in a world full of people trying to be somebody else. While people idolize people wearing disguises, I idolize you. You are the real stud.

  • Tyger

    Maybe more like, “What disguises don’t I wear?”  With friends, family, co-workers, public officials (  :P   ), the list goes on. 

  • Dan

    Two thoughts:

    1.  Back in the olden days of Usenet, someone wrote (more or less),”If you don’t lie to people, eventually you’ll be surrounded by friends you don’t need to lie to.”

    2.  Mose Allison, “What’s Your Movie?”  (Google is your friend…)


  • Candy Wigmore

    Maybe all our disguises are a part of the whole us and we are layered beings and we evolve from  day to day so it seems sometimes that what we were last year was not authentic or real…I wonder if that is true then can who we are today really be true…To me its all just life and its all REAL or maybe ILLUSION??? 

  • Tor Munkov

    Maybe I’m misreading this post, but I came away with the feeling you find value in armed goons patroling your neighborhood with dogs.
    The policeman’s disguise is so good you didn’t even recognize it as such. Worse than begging for a living, he is part of a gang that steals from the small group of people like yourself who are highly productive. He cons you into thinking you hired him to steal from you and throws a few bones to the more numerous non-productive and destructive people who vote him in power.
    Fool you once in Nazi Germany, fool you twice in Soviet Russia; certainly a Jewish American should be ashamed to be silent to the whole process of currency debasement, martial law under Bloomberg, and to waste their immense talents writing so much as one supplicating sentence that appeases the fascist lies of the nightstick-swinging nannies of our totalitarian state?

  • rondo smith

    Alexis M.

    Maybe  it is not  a disguise, maybe there is nothing behind the curtain. And maybe you know it

  • rondo smith

    Alexis M.”Lives don’t change. We simply become more comfortable with our coremisery, which is a form of happiness.”

  • Chouaib

    Honestly… lately I’ve been discovering that all aspects of my life are disguised, that the whole way I was living it was/is a disguise..am trying to but since i got so deep into it, it seems bizarre!     

  • kamalravikant

    This…is…just…great, James.

    I think the ultimate disguise is my identity, sense of self, the thoughts in my head, thinking that they’re the real me.  

  • Kim Ruley

    I couldn’t imagine a more perfect blog to come across this evening as I’m trying to deal with my new found freedom that has come with being fired. I struggled at the position I was just “let go” from, mostly because I refused to play into the game that everyone else wanted me to. I don’t care about the same things that the majority of people I worked with care about. The things that matter to me are the simple things, and I was never meant for the corporate world. I don’t want to earn money so I can buy a giant house I really don’t need.. I want to earn money so that I can pay off my bills and eat. The mask of mine that is the most securely fastened is that of fear. But as I embark on this new chapter of my life, I feel that perhaps little by little, those fastenings will begin to loosen and the mask will fall to the wayside.