Turn and Face the Strange - by Aaryaman Trivedi (JSLH ’16)

He was no one. The Many-Faced God taught him how to shed his face and how to give the gift.” The words of George R.R Martin have triumphantly laid their mark on modern fantasy fiction for ages to come. None more so, in my opinion, than the ballad of the youngest Stark daughter and her dabbling with this magnificent concept; 

To shed your face.

What looks on screen to be a beautiful medley of well-executed CGI and facial modulation, is actually a relevant personal takeaway for the social medley of college life. While Bravosi assassins use this ability to deliver the precious gift of death to those who have wronged The Many-Faced God, teenagers use it to fit in. That’s right kids, you too can become JaqenH’qar in your own special way. For those of you reading this who aren’t as big ASOIAF (Game of Thrones) fans as I am, all I ask you to imagine is the antics of a pantomime, the consistent shifting of faces; of expressions, emotions. All to achieve the one purpose we all desire at some point in our lives – social acceptance. 

The first few days of college have taught me a lot. It has taught me to persevere, to be hopeful, to wear comfortable footwear when I’m walking to the dining hall and to carry mosquito repellent. In that exact order, too. Beyond anything else, it has taught me to not to make assumptions. There are over 300 students from across plains, mountains, rivers, panipuri stalls and music preferences gathered in one space to make their first leap towards their individual futures. It can get exhausting. But no matter how different people look, how differently they talk, how differently they order Subway, we are all in the same space. For all I know, the shy boy sitting alone at lunch is going to be my business partner for my upcoming social networking app. For all I know, he’s going to be my boss after the social networking app doesn’t succeed. I can never know unless I go and sit with him.

What does this have to do with Faceless Men you ask? I’m getting to that. My high school Literature teacher introduced me to one of the most upsetting words in the English language – ‘facade’. The JGU-STU WiFi allowed Google to tell me it means “a deceptive outward appearance”. I dare you to tell me anything scarier than that.

One’s identity is the single most sacred aspect of progress, the diversity that exists in the microcosm of JGU is all a direct result of the individuality that thrives in this beautiful place. Identity defines who you are, and who you want to be. It is for your own hands to mould and to shape, and your own hands only. While it is up to those hands to reach and borrow from the different experiences and opportunities available, in the end, it is how you wish for it to be. However, when you fall into the gaping chasm which is laying the ground work to build up a facade (the word I really hate), you risk losing your identity. And that is a really scary thing.

But that sounds like something that tightens the noose around our necks doesn’t it? Really scary things?

For me, one of those things happens to be the thought of rejection. If I don’t talk in a certain way, or if I don’t respond in a certain manner, will the person standing in front of me like me? This looming thought stuck with me all the way up until high school, the fear of the other. To avoid these fears, we all generate certain methods to cope with our inhibitions, to hide our insecurities. We borrow an identity of someone we idolize to give the impression of confidence, of swagger, of self-assurance. All to do what? To get someone else to like us.

We steal a face from The Hall of Faces.

We create a facade.

What I would like to informally petition for is to boycott this idea of needing to steal a face; of needing to take the identity of someone you aren’t, or of someone you don’t see yourself as. Faces are beautiful things, and it is the idiosyncratic features of our faces that add to that individual beauty. Whether it’s a flat nose, a crooked eyebrow or chapped lips, we are who we are no matter how hard we try to change it. Let us strip away the facade, let go of the baggage we carried with us to our hostel rooms and breathe.

Stealing faces is not cool.

Let’s just get used to the pretty ones we already have 🙂