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Pre-order our book YOU ARE AN ARTIST (which includes new assignments!) here: We’re talking about your responses to Tameka Norris’s assignment to Become Someone Else and how both internal and external change are a constant and inevitable reality in our lives. Thanks for all the wonderful submissions!

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(PBS Digital Studios intro plays)

Sarah: Today we're gonna talk about Tameka Norris’s assignment Become Someone Else. This is the challenge.

Tameka: First, before you do anything, take a selfie, then get one transitional item like a moustache, lipstick, tie, whatever it is, a wig, then go out into the world, check your mail, go get a coffee, go take a ride in your car, in the process take another selfie... and that's it!

Sarah: We gave it that title because it's short and catchy but of course it's kind of an impossible idea, because on the one hand you can't really escape your own body and become someone else, and on the other hand you're always psychologically in the process of becoming someone else. So to those of you who took on this impossible challenge, thank you, and to everyone else, let's look at these responses and try to answer the question "Can you become someone else?"

Tameka mentioned red lipstick as a transitioning item that makes her feel like someone else, and some of you thought so too. Soleilthesinger went this route and said "two sides of Soleil," underlining the idea that one person can contain multiple selves, and she makes it look quite easy.

Haveyouseenmyfez also used makeup to transition and thought about the difference between how she looks most of the time and how she presents herself online. She says, "The first image is a selfie I would not post on social media and the second is my current Facebook profile picture... what this project has encouraged me to think about is who exactly am I creating this version of my identity for? Am I selecting image 2 to share on social media because it is the way I want others to see me? Or is it the way I want to see myself?"

There was a consistent refrain in the video comments about how this assignment doesn't even really have to be done per se, that most of us do this kind of thing all the time. It's just that we don't usually pay very close attention to it. Like here, we see "dental assistant" Laura, who's a morning person, she's very confident, good with kids, and she knows how to do everything that's expected of her. But comp-sci student Laura is not a morning person and is much less sure of herself professionally, though both are comic book and sci-fi fans.

Rebecca also shared her home-self and work-self. She says, "My home self tends to be quieter, reserved, focused on drawing or knitting or reading. But take off the glasses, add some contacts and makeup, and I become work self, the perfect waitress at a crowded brewery. I pitch my voice higher, smile bigger, walk quicker, back straighter - I exaggerate every expression and reaction... neither self is the true me, that person resides somewhere in the middle."

Murderbyrosestem also identified a way they transition naturally in the course of their week, by going to chem lab. Saying, "When I put on my coat and goggles I feel myself transform into someone who is smart. ...I'm a freshman in college aiming for a plant sciences degree and aim to get a PhD, but sitting in orgo, chem, and calc while feeling totally lost can be discouraging. And once a week I get to put on my coat and goggles and feel like I'm going somewhere."

We see other ways these different identities we present can be constructive, like theemcyclopedia shows us their regular persona, and then their slam poet artist persona, saying, "Slam is all about vulnerability, so to keep myself protected I invented this persona. I make myself as inhuman as possible in order to distance myself from my work."

But while some of you have clear feelings about your public vs. your private personas, others thoughtfully described a real ambivalence. Like Meg, who said, "This is the transition that takes place between the night and day. From frantic, exhausted, and unsure to seemingly confident and put together. I'm very fortunate to create content I'm passionate about. But to do it I have to become the person that can do all the things. That doesn't come naturally to me. I often wonder if this transformation is bringing self improvement or if it's actually going against my nature."

But at the same time, we have David Elliott Narcisse, who shows himself in two different styles of clothing, and with and without facial hair, but says about it, " '
Still' me, & then, still me." We see someone who feels comfortable presenting themselves in contrasting ways.

One of my favorite aspects of this assignment is to see the shifts in facial expression that happen between selfie 1 and selfie 2. Like Kyle Barry, who goes from no glasses to glasses, or notcrazyjustcatholic, who goes from no pregnant belly to pregnant belly, or Flaviaaa Louise, who goes from no headscarf to headscarf, or JSKenedy, who shows an image from before she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer and after. And it's not even clear to me which is the before and which is after. These hugely life-shifting things happen within ourselves and are very often indetectable. These facial expressions sometimes tell us somethings and sometimes they really don't.

Here, we see echojardini who goes from wearing a chest binder to wearing a bra. Echo had worn a binder for about a year before and describes their daily effort to pass as non-binary, but for this they put on one of their old bras and said, "From the moment I put it on I began to feel absolutely disgusting. It was hard to breathe, I began to sweat, my hands were shaking, and I felt nauseated. Still I persisted and I walked out to the community areas of my dorm; the free movement of my chest made me feel even worse. Still, it was so easy to exchange pleasantries with the people I encountered, to pretend like nothing was wrong because nobody except for myself ever seems to notice whether I'm binding or not."

This was making me feel pretty badly for my part in putting this assignment out into the world, but echo was able to find a positive note in the experience, and that was the feeling of relief when they took the bra off and put the binder back on. Saying how doing this reminded them of how much the binder helps them go about life, regardless of whether it changes the way they're perceived by others.

These responses made me think a lot about whether or when discomfort like this can be productive, or when it can just make you feel terrible, but it seems like most who've done this exercise have found it valuable in one way or another, and more importantly this emphasized for me how many of us don't get to choose what our transitioning item will be.

I really appreciated this response by justthewett, who's first picture was taken the day before their paralyzing rock climbing accident, and then the second was taken 13 months later, and is the first selfie that includes their wheelchair. They say, "The last 13 months has been a journey in learning who I am as a disabled woman - it's a new part of my identity that isn't going away - but I purposely wore the same shirt to show I'm the same me with more life added. The wheelchair doesn't make me less; it deepens me as a human. I'm still learning who I am in the wheelchair, but I'm learning not to be ashamed of it. I spent almost a full year avoiding people taking pictures of me that showed the chair, but #cripplepunk helped me to start embracing it as a beautiful part of me."

The Become Someone Else assignment is powerful because it not only shows how an external change, however small or large, can usher in dramatic internal transformation, but also because external change happens to us no matter what, even if we do our best to prevent it, and we're constantly having to adjust to that reality. Tameka really said it best, "How do you perform your new self that you are becoming?" So I would tell you to keep doing this assignment, but you're doing it anyway, so keep up the good work.