“Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me false to my nature? Rather say I play the man I am.”
-Coriolanus, William Shakespeare.
Back in February I went down to Salt Lake City with my friend Erin to see the National Theater’s film broadcast of Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston and I have been thinking about that play a lot recently (apparently it was nominated for a bunch of things so it has been blowing up my twitter feed for the past week or so).
OKAY! I will grant that I like Tom Hiddleston and find him super attractive (I might even follow a couple Hiddleston-centric Pinterest boards) but I also like Shakespeare. What I like most about William Shakespeare is the fact that her wrote characters (like Caius Martius Coriolanus) who refused to change who they were no matter who was asking them to. They did not change their nature because in the end no person really can change who they fundamentally are and what they were raised to be.
Caius Martius Coriolanus is a wonderful example of being who you are in spite of the consequences. He would not change.. He would not be milder because that was what the people or his friends demanded of him. Martius (which if you have read or seen the play you know is his real name and Coriolanus is a title of honor he is given after single-handedly conquering a town) is a man with certain beliefs and he won’t be persuaded to alter those beliefs or (more importantly I think) to act as if he does not believe them.I connect with that on a deep personal level even though I know that refusal to change loses every honor he has for himself, gets him banished, alienates his entire family, gets him killed (brutally) (I’m not even sorry about the spoilers this contains, the play is really old.) and generally makes him a bad guy. I connect to that character because I have no interest in making myself milder or less myself just for the sake of appearing better. I am insistent on being who I am as I am even though I know that my stubborn refusal and my somewhat abrasive personality is most likely to send me careening toward an unsavory fate . I know that refusing to just say what the people want to hear did not work out for Martius or anyone else in the world but I still want to make people apologize for wishing me to be milder or false to my nature rather than playing the woman that I am.
What’s the point of all of this? Well, let me tell you; I’ve been having a hard time finding a job. It’s me. I know it is me. I don’t always interview very well. This morning I was talking with my parents about a job I interviewed for back in March and that the reason I did not get it was the fact that I was not “Texas Christian” enough for them. They would ask a religious question and I knew what the answer they were looking for was but I knew giving them that answer would be a lie (or heretical). I won’t lie, not in job interviews. I believe I should be hired on the merits of my skills and I believe that I should not have to change who I am just for a job (sound familiar?). I won’t put on a false face and give them the line of bullshit they are looking for. I will not be false to my nature. Even playing the part of being false goes against every fiber of who I am.
My dad said to me half way through the conversation that I just have to tell them what they need to hear. “I am telling them what they need to hear,” I answered, “I’m just not telling them what they want to hear and that makes all of the difference.”
(Super opinionated and kind of hostile since 1989)
There it is. Deep down I know that I have to live with myself. I have to recognize who I am and what I believe and be the person that makes me even if it gets me tossed out of town or strait up murdered by Tullus Aufidius (Martius’ arch-enemy, read the play). I consider sometimes just putting on the false face, the facade, and still being who I am underneath but even that goes against who I am. You see, I was raised by my parents to understand that I do not always fit inside of the little check mark box that people carry around with them and to just be confident and outward about that. I grew up trying not to hide who I was just because someone else doesn’t care for it and that is as much part of my nature as anything else. If I were to just hide parts of who I am or say what people want to hear in my interviews then I would feel false. I would have betrayed my nature.
I am the way I am for a reason. In the play Martius’ abrasive and fiery nature serves him as a soldier. It is not until he is pushed into a different world that being unyielding causes him trouble. My own nature may not serve me now but it is my nature and if I start to be false to it who is to say that I will be truly myself when I do need to be. I don’t think that there is a middle line I can walk. I believe I just have to be who I am in spite of those who would seek to alter me.