My Favorite Personality Of Hers Was Mine

Photo: Misha Voguel | Canva
Many personalities of Katie

When I first met Katie, I liked her immediately.

She was warm, funny, and accessibly brilliant. We had so many things in common: she loved to read, go to the theatre, and was a bit of a foodie, but not in a snobby way. She was as likely to enjoy a meal at a five-star restaurant as a burger at a fast-food joint.

We were both young, blonde, and light-eyed. She was tall to my short, slender to my curvy, and impeccably groomed to my thrown-together sense of style.

Katie was down-to-earth and authentically herself, or so I thought.

Enter Candace.

Candace was Katie’s friend from work. She was caustic and sarcastic and smoked one cigarette after the other. If you asked her not to smoke or to, at least, blow the smoke in the opposite direction of your face, she took it as a personal affront.

She wore black leather boots and matching bustiers over creamed-colored silk blouses and pencil skirts. This was her armor for when her harsh personality failed to push people away.

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“You read Stephen King?” Candace said to me once as we were waiting for Katie. “I don’t read trash like that, but I guess any reading is a good thing.”

Only a few people got close to Candace, and her friendship wasn’t something I coveted. I was happy to let Katie and Candace spend time together without me.

The less time I had to be around Candace, the better.

A few months after Candace-don’t-call-her-Candy, and Katie started spending time together, I got a nasty shock.

I’d gone over to Katie’s house for dinner, but when she opened the door, it took me a moment to recognize her. She wasn’t in her usual cheerful prints but dressed in all black, with leather boots and pleather pants.

Was this a joke? Why was she dressed as Candace?

“Did you come to my house by way of China,” Katie asked sarcastically. “Next time you say you’ll be here at 8:00 p.m., get here by 8:00!”

For the next few months, it was as if Katie had been possessed by the very much alive Candace. Katie dyed her hair burnt-coffee brown, dressed, and acted like Candace. She even spoke like her, with every sentence loaded with a heavy dose of contempt.

If I didn’t like the original Candace, I sure didn’t like the faux version. But I stayed friends with Katie, hoping she’d eventually realize being a knockoff version of Candace wasn’t a good look, and she’d go back to being herself.

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“Hey, do you want to see Chris Isaak next week with me,” Katie asked me. She sounded like her old self. Was it the phone, or had she finally tired of being Candace 2.0?

Well, even if she hadn’t, I wasn’t going to miss seeing Chris Isaak.

“I’d love to,” I said.

We planned to have dinner first and then go to the small club where he was performing.

On the night of the show, Katie picked me up, and her hair was blonde again. She was wearing a cute outfit of pink jeans, and a purple velour top, which she accessorized with a charm bracelet and a fun vintage purse — all stuff I’d own.

Wait a minute! I had those same jeans and top — I’d bought them with my first paycheck from my job as a floater at Macy's.

We fell easy into conversation, and I noticed she used expressions of mine such as yikeswow, and he’s a TLBTTM (total lush babe to the max.)

Oh lord, Katie was me this time.

I liked the Chris/Katie version a lot. She was fun, funny, and enjoyable to be around. I didn’t feel judged as I did with the Candance/Katie version or as if everything I said was too stupid to be taken seriously.

But having a sudden twin was also unnerving. I didn’t want anybody to think I was copying Katie or for her to out-Chris me. If I said something clever or humorous, I wanted full credit.

We are all unique, and even the closest approximation isn’t the real deal. Why couldn’t Katie see that a watered-down version of anybody wasn’t as good as the real deal Katie?

The Chris/Katie phase didn’t last long, and Katie cycled through several different personalities — all based on her friends, over the years.

I never knew from time to time who I was going to get when I saw Katie.

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She only took on one personality at a time — she didn’t have Dissociative Identity Disorder. Her personas weren’t in her head at the same time, battling for dominance. Katie’s personality changes happened one at a time.

There was the giggly and superficial Katie/Victoria, the tough girl, Katie/Betty, and the sporty Katie/Terri. It was as if Katie was each one of The Spice Girls!

Tell me whatcha want, what ya really, really want!

I’ve never been able to discover why Katie was so uncomfortable being herself. She may have had internalized trauma, and being the real Katie was too emotionally dangerous and could cause her to let her guard down.

Katie finally settled on a personality and has been that friend for so long that I’m certain most people think it is her true self. And maybe it is.

This woman is confident, capable, smart, and loving — who wouldn’t want to be like that? If there weren’t some clear differences in life philosophies and beliefs, then I might think this personality was a more mature version of Katie, but the disparity is great.

No matter how much we grow and change as we age, there are things about ourselves that stay constant.

Her current (and hopefully, final) personality works for her, and she has a good life with lots of love, excitement, and satisfaction.

I don’t know if Katie finally loves herself, but I hope she does because regardless of what version she is, there’s a good person and loyal friend at her core.

I just wish she could trust that who is she and who she always was is enough.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.