My thoughts swam around in my pretty glass globe, in my soul. Everyone could follow their play. Not a shadowy corner. Yet, without words, without shape or consistency, diluted in that innocent transparency, a transparent certainty spoiled everything: I was an impostor. How can one put on an act without knowing that one is acting? The clear, sunny semblances that constituted my role were exposed by a lack of being which I could neither quite understand nor cease to feel. I would turn to the grown-ups, I would ask them to guarantee my merits. In doing so, I sank deeper into the imposture. Condemned to please, I endowed myself with charms that withered on the spot. Everywhere I went, I dragged about my false good nature, my idle importance, on the alert for a new opportunity. When I thought that I had seized it, I would strike a pose only to find once again the hollowness which I was trying to get away from.
I was a fake child, I was holding a fake salad-washer. I could feel my acts changing into gestures. Play-acting robbed me of the world and of human beings. I saw only roles and props. Serving the activities of adults in a spirit of buffoonery, how could I have taken their worries seriously? I adapted myself to their intentions with a virtuous eagerness that kept me from sharing their purposes. A stranger to the needs, hopes, and pleasures of the species, I squandered myself coldly in order to charm it. It was my audience; I was separated, from it by footlights that forced me into a proud exile which quickly turned to anguish.
—Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mots, p. 83