I was raised on weird Czech fairytales. One of them – which is also prominent in Russia – goes something like this:
A king sent his three sons on a mission to obtain the beautiful Firebird. The youngest son befriended a magic fox, who led him to the castle at which the Firebird was kept. The king of that castle told the prince that he would exchange the Firebird for a golden-maned horse, and the king of the castle where the horse was kept said that he would exchange the horse for the Golden Princess. Through a series of trials and with the help of the fox, the prince was able to trick the princess’s mother into letting him take her away with him, supposedly to marry her.
However, when the prince got to the castle where the golden-maned horse was kept, he (rightly) thought better of actually giving away the princess. Luckily, the fox was a master of disguise and transformed herself into the likeness of the princess. As the prince was making his getaway, though, someone in the castle noted that the princess seemed to have fox eyes, at which point the spell was broken and the fox darted out of the castle.
Similarly, when it was time to exchange the golden-maned horse for the Firebird, the fox transformed herself into the likeness of the horse and was able to fool the king just long enough for the prince to get away, at which point one of the nobles in the castle noted that the horse had a fox’s tail. The fox instantly transformed back into herself and ran out.
This is basically what it’s felt like to try to pass as a “normal” person throughout much of my life. I’m able to do a pretty good impression, but it’s never perfect, and whenever someone comments on a lapse in my disguise I get this overpowering sense that the “gig is up” and it’s time to cut and run, never to be seen by those people again.
This is, of course, not the best approach when you’re trying to build lasting relationships, either socially and professionally. The trick is to keep in mind that even after someone notices something is “off” about me, this does not mean that they don’t like or respect me anymore, or that I don’t do good work. So what if I’m not a princess or a horse? I’m a magical talking, shapeshifting fox. That’s not so bad after all!