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Friday, May 24, 2024

Commentary: ‘Acting accordingly’ isn’t the same as being ‘fake’

Sometimes acting can promote growth over conflict


By RUMA POUDELL — arts@theaggie.org


Do you know about Leonardo DiCaprio — the guy who dies in “The Titanic?” I’m sorry for spoiling that. But really, you should’ve watched that movie by now. Maybe Nicolas Cage? He was the lead actor in the movie “National Treasure.” If these stars don’t ring a bell, don’t worry about it. That just means you don’t know some of my past celebrity crushes, which saves me embarrassment (especially that second one). 

The beautiful thing about acting is that you can mold yourself into a new character and snap out of it once you have finished playing your role. 

Many real-life scenarios require you to adopt that same kind of versatility. It’s critical to infuse your personality into social and personal situations in such a manner that is congenial while still authentically expressive.

For example, when you don’t have the best relationship with someone, sometimes it is best to present yourself pleasantly in their presence, as to avoid causing drama or being deceitful.

What I call “acting accordingly,” or putting on a performance to some degree, is necessary to function in certain social situations. Being fake and two-faced is entirely separate from presenting yourself in a manner that matches what you want to emanate, even if doing so doesn’t reveal everything about you with pure transparency. 

To me, having that versatility is important to fulfilling the many demands of life. And, being versatile in nature to fit into any scenario at hand doesn’t make you “fake.”

You already play different roles in your everyday life — teacher or student, parent or child, speaker or listener, doctor or patient, to name a few. Each role you play requires careful consideration of what outcomes you want and how to present yourself to get them. This is not to be manipulative, but rather to promote harmony in all aspects of life. This is where the art of acting comes into play.

In my life, my biggest role has been the role of Nepali-Fijian daughter. Growing up in America but raised by a culturally-acquainted family, I grappled with what it meant to be a daughter. Serving tea to guests, learning how to cook before my older brother, interacting with elder relatives — all of it took a certain level of performance that felt awkward at first.

But as I grew older, I realized that this role, and each time that I have performed it, has taught me valuable life skills.

As I grew into the role of “daughter” put into place in my family, I also learned to stand my ground in a dignified way when conflict arose and to connect with others authentically, all while being socially graceful.

All of this is to say that while “acting accordingly” is a useful framework to operate within as you perform your roles, it should not be placed above your needs. If you neglect serious emotions and views or abandon your personality in the name of promoting peace, that defeats its purpose. As you star in the movie that is your life, act to build character, not diminish it.


Written by: Ruma Poudell — arts@thaggie.org