What you can’t tell from looking at my ID is that for my first two and a half years at Penn, it never saw the light of day. Or, for that matter, the artificial lights at night. No, it stayed in a desk drawer ready to do its bi-semester duty of getting me on an airplane to and from home. But just because me and my ID weren’t tied at the hip doesn’t mean that for all those weekend nights at Penn I went out alone.
For my first years here it was Kate who came out with me. Kate was my fake ID. She was from the South. She was 5’6’’, which, conveniently, is my actual height as opposed to the 5’8’’ I wishfully had written down at the DMV when I got my driver’s license. We had the same color hair and eyes and, after some practice, I could smile just like her. On bad days, we were accused of being sisters. On good days, no one could tell us apart.
The main problem with Kate, though, was that she was super behind the times. Like, by two years. So it was always iffy when it came to whether we would be accepted into the party. Kate couldn’t change her ways. I understood that. She was as rigid as the day she was created. Unable to keep relevant, she was forever stuck as a square. So, when I couldn’t count on her, I had to count on myself.
I learned Kate and I got into bars when I acted like we had done it a million times. I read the check out workers at the liquor store to decide who would be less likely to question Kate and then I walked up to them bottle of wine or cheap vodka in hand. It was all about eye-contact and body language, it was all about confidence. I faked it until I felt it.
This increased our chances but wasn’t foolproof. But, if we weren’t accepted at a bar we became good at figuring out a new night on the spot. We got creative. We had to. Nights were entirely unpredictable. We would never know where they’d end because we weren’t sure how they would begin.
Now, I’m a senior and my real ID is in my wallet. Kate is left in some drawer somewhere—she was too old to be passed on to someone else. But, as I’ve started job interviews this fall I’ve noticed that something comes over me when I walk up to the interviewers, as I shake their hands. Head up, eye contact: confidence. Fake it till you make it. If it doesn’t work out: get creative.