Francis Rubio

Pretension and Delusion

…are the cure to a meaningless life.

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5 minute read

I am one pretentious bitch. I am delusional. And while I don’t take pride in that, I am grateful for such “tricks”. A lot of people have been in the gutter at least once in their lives, a period of time when they feel the lowest, like nothing in their lives mattered. And when I had my time to such moment, I turned to pretentiousness and delusions to keep the dark thoughts at bay. Like they say, shine and be the light you need when the dark of the void comes to feed. Of course, like any other tool, these can only go so far. But boy, did they go so far for me.

I always thought I was meant for something great. I still do. But I think so especially at times when I don’t feel the best about myself. I was granted a life of a telenovela main character—a father I never met, a mother who died when I was very young, a piss poor family with a financially abusive stepdad, and an eagerness to get out of the slums I was in. Wouldn’t you agree that I am a living, breathing Mara from the show Mara Clara? At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was actually accidentally swapped with a different baby at birth, and that I am actually an heir to a billionaire. (Please make it happen.) And anyone who has lived a life of struggle, myself included, would think, this shit can’t be for nothing, can it? And I am sad to say this, but sometimes (a lot of times, even), shit like this are for nothing. A lot of times, our struggles mean nothing other than we were unlucky with the cards we were dealt with.

So I turned to being pretentious and delusional as a coping mechanism. I started romanticizing everything in my life. I started thinking of myself as a character in a novel, and that my author likes torturing me for a good story. If I was going through a tragic event, like when my mom died, or when I almost succumbed to self-harm, I saw those as important chapters in the book. Hell, I even remember them now through the lens of cameras that shoot the scenes, complete with background music and camera work. I sometimes play them out in my head, and I extend them to a flashforward to a time when I am successful and happy most of all.

And you may say that I might be mentally ill, or that I am deranged.

Yes. Yes, I am. Or I might be, I’m not really sure. I was never diagnosed.

But that’s fine! That’s normal even. With the things that happened to me, it’s a miracle that I’m still standing as sane as I currently am. But I realize that as time goes on, I find less and less need for being pretentious and delusional. I find that I often need to face reality as it is. Or that I want to face reality as it is, instead of turning to my coping mechanisms. I find that, while I used to conjure myself up as someone superior to everyone so that I could evade feelings of self-doubt, I am now more prone to impostor syndrome because of going for realism. But I also learned how to celebrate my successes instead of keeping them to myself for fear that my fantasies would leak out and that people would see me as a conceited, egotistical mess of a person. It has allowed me to genuinely accept compliments, and also give out compliments more generously. It has allowed me to actually address my feelings and deal with them in a healthier way.

Even so, I still rely on pretension and delusion from time to time when things get too much. Well, not “rely”. “Rely” is a strong word. “Use” is probably more appropriate. I use pretension and delusion as tools. When I feel ugly, I pretend that I am the epitome of grace and elegance, and seeing me in public in my ugliest would be on the frontpage of tabloids like I’m some superstar. Or when I feel the most beautiful, I pay for photoshoots just so that I could look at them later on and tell myself, you are one beautiful, goregous man. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Or when I feel creative, I write blog posts like this, or short stories, or poetry, and then I make references to known artists, pop culture, and prior art so that I could say, Je suis un artiste. Or like Bretman Rock said, I’m not an influencer. I’m a content creator.

When I feel dumb, I pretend that I am a detective and I just haven’t found all the relevant clues to solve the case. When I feel the smartest, I pretend to be an expert speaking onstage about the newest thing I am passionate about. When I lose my way and feel lazy about creating content for Antares Programming, I imagine myself going up on the stage of the University of the Philippines to accept the award for Best Content Creator for Software and Tech and Content Creator of the Year (no such awards in UP, by the way). Or when I won King of the Night last Christmas season, I walked that empty alleyway home and strutted down like I’m damn Lady Gaga on the runway of the VMAs wearing Mugler or Alexander McQueen. Or when I first found out that a fling I had in the past is actually in a relationship with one of my students, I imagined myself crying like a leading man in a k-drama, with all the five stages of grief happening at the same time and showing up on his stupefied face. Even this blog was born out of my delusions that magazines would be dying to have a photoshoot and an interview with me; well, they aren’t dying to do that, so I created my own “magazine” and published whatever I thought I wanted to say. And also the photoshoots, which I thought of as covers and magazine spreads.

I am aware that I am doing this. In fact, I mostly do it consciously. I am aware that I am looking at my life through rose-colored lenses, and that my life is probably as boring as life gets. Hell, I work an eight-hour job sitting at a desk and staring at a computer; of course, my life is boring. But I say do whatever helps you to cope. Just don’t do drugs, and I think I’ll be fine. And also, I work hard mentally so that I don’t emit this vibe that I think I’m more important than I actually am. Humility is a gracious trait, and it is important for me to stay humble.

I also probably need to see a therapist. But I don’t have the budget for that yet. Or like the “script” in my delusions say, I am still preoccupied by projects and a hectic schedule. Maybe I’ll revisit in the future.

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