“I’d rather pretend I’m something better than these broken parts, pretend I’m something other than this mess that I am.”
The main character, Evan Hansen, sings this in “Dear Evan Hansen” at the climax of the musical, when sh*t hits the fan and it’s time to finally be honest. He can’t stand himself and he has gone to obscene lengths to hide this fact from everyone. It’s sung in a writhing, desperate way that shows how raw this revelation.
But Evan isn’t the only character with deep pain in this show. All of them, even the put-together Zoe, have feelings that are dark and difficult that threaten to spin out of control. Each comes to a way of coping that is far from completely effective, and in fact may do them more harm than good.
And of course one reason that this show is so popular is that so many of us have these feelings, too. We can learn from this show and this quote in particular. Even if we seem to have it together, especially on social media, so many of us are struggling deeply. And that struggle isn’t always social acceptable – and so we dig down and we cope. Like the characters in the show, we might not even be aware of the coping mechanisms we have adopted or the harm they may be doing.
But perhaps by understanding and owning our coping techniques, we can start to grow out from them – hopefully, before we fall out of a tree.
Given that people are scary and you aren’t at all sure of your own worth…Which one might you be today?
You adopt a posture of avoidance. You wave through a window, but ultimately slam on the brakes before you turn the key to connecting with others.
You adopt a posture of defiance. You push others away (literally) and act out, all the while terrified that you will just disappear.
You adopt a posture of arrogant self-confidence. You laugh too loud and joke a bit much, hiding behind petty little jokes like “what are you, an acorn?!” Boasts like having friends at camp get spun to fit this image, but desperation lies underneath.
You get sh*t done, working every moment to say things and do things and be things that might seem to help, all the while terrified of being irrelevant.
You craft a cool, creative persona, but one which doesn’t leave room to express your very real despair. Those feelings are left bottled up and hidden away, unless you are by yourself.
I suspect we all take on these personas at various points in our days and weeks, but if there’s one you can identify with, sit with that thought. Remember that you are more than your broken parts, but what you are pretending might not reflect that. Coping is crucial; but always be ready to define your coping with a good character ballad and then put that character to bed. Then, refreshed, maybe you can be ready to step into the sun.