2019 reprinted (with permission) because it’s so awesome!!
Something happens to my brain when I hear the line “tell me about the real you”. That (not so little at times) voice inside me whispers …”yes yes go ahead and tell them”–but then the louder voice (OMG so many voices inside my head) shouts “NO! Don’t you dare!” So the question remains…which voice do I listen to?When I was younger, the idea that someone really wanted to take the time to hear about the “real me” always felt rather flattering. But seriously–it’s such a loaded statement and coming up with a good answer? Well–more than a bit of a challenge. For example–what happens if the “real you” is the body suit you have been wearing all along? Is this person who is asking–implying that I am an impostor in my own skin? Some sort of pretender trying to fool him (and others) with my fake facade? OR–has the assumption been made that–like most of us–I keep many parts of my real personality hidden from public view?What does “real” actually mean? I googled it (of course) and here the results:
- actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.
- (of a substance or thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine.
As children we are “real” in that we have not yet discovered how to be anything else. We are genuine and spontaneous in our behaviors and reactions to stimuli outside ourselves. We laugh loud when we are amused or happy and we cry (even louder) when we are hurt or in pain. Although the reasons may be a bit cloudy–there is not doubt of what we are feeling…no need to guess at our emotional responses. No child when asked “does it hurt” will say “no” –if indeed it hurts. A joyful child (to me) is akin to the 8th wonder of the world–in that it is a wonder to behold. Where would You-Tube be without all those home videos of children clapping their hands and laughing uproariously (over seemingly) nothing? How infectious that joy can be–we keep replaying those videos over and over again and laughing along…it makes us FEEL so good–because it’s…you guessed it…REAL!
We grow older and we learn to disguise our (sometimes favorable or unfavorable) reactions behind poker faces that cannot be accurately read by those trying to figure us out. Why? Why do we do that? What’s the benefit? Well–somewhere between child and growing up we discovered that letting others know how we REALLY feel–isn’t always a good thing. We figured out that keeping a leash and collar on our emotions and responses–can help us to feel less vulnerable to others. In fact–telling people we feel the opposite of how we actually do–is sometimes a valuable tool called “reverse psychology”–and can get us things we want much faster–than if we told the truth.The danger of bottling up the “real”– inside a body suit of “fake”– is that a time may come when we (ourselves) may no longer know how we actually feel in a given situation. We can lose track of who we really are– when we don’t let our real feelings manifest. We can start to feel misunderstood by those around us (indeed by the world at large) and crawl inside a little black hole that seems to keep getting bigger–each time we swallow a truth and replace it with words that mask and hide what we truly are thinking and feeling.
The “real me” had been held captive for a while now in a suit of armor that is very restricting. True I have little “breathing holes” I call them–where real feelings slipped out occasionally– but for the most part–I kept myself bottled up. The funny part is that lots of people never noticed. I am by nature a caring person and I believe myself to be a kind person as well. But after too much heartbreak– I had learned to zip my mouth and allow my brain the time sift through countless options before I spoke. The “real me” sometimes suffered by my own censorship of what was dying to burst out of me–but kept being told (by a brain that had been put in charge)–”NO! Don’t say it that way–someone might misunderstand and you’ll find yourself in yet another pickle. You’ll just have to extricate your foot from your mouth again and do–way too much damage control and explaining–much better to just “tell them what they want to hear”.
And so I did. I used to tell people what they wanted to hear and they were happy (for that moment)–until they found out (much later on) that I had not expressed my true feelings at all. I had not lied to them–but had certainly been guilty of the “crime” (?) of omission. I omitted telling them what I felt would surely be unpleasant and upsetting to them. But that was then and this is now.
As I write this I am smiling…simply because I have found my own definition of “real”. “Real” feels good…it feels right…it doesn’t make you queasy or uneasy. “Real” is what you feel without “fine-tuning” it to something more “acceptable” or “appropriate”. “Real” is honest and speaks truth. Sometimes “real” isn’t popular in a discussion –especially if others are practicing and engaging in (all too common) “fake” repertoire. Other times “real” can also make or break a relationship–but I’ve learned that any relationship broken by truth and honesty–is not one I want to be in. “Real” is also trust. Trusting what your heart and mind are telling you is right and true.
In this world of ours –where false advertising prides itself on fooling the better part of a population and where people appear almost eager to be duped in ways that are truly unimaginable– I believe knowing when (and who) to trust is nothing less than a God given gift and blessing.I have learned to “trust” me. It took so many years of trusting everyone else–thinking they all knew stuff about me that I could not myself comprehend–before I finally looked in the mirror and smiled at what I saw. I didn’t cringe at the white hair (although that little voice whispered gently–you can put a blonde rinse in it anytime). I didn’t try to stretch the skin around my eyes (or mouth) to make the wrinkles less noticeable–I now accepted them as the laugh lines they truly are (they are–right??). I’ve learned to laugh a myself (and not at my own expense). I see my long nose–patrician nose they call it? Yeah it’s still large–my face never really grew big enough to make my nose look small–but it’s mine and I own it. Hey–a large nose was good enough for Barbra Streisand never to want to tamper with–so why should I regret my own? My eyes stare back at me–the color (sometimes) of a clear blue sky –and other times resembling a stormy ocean–are they placed too close together? Who cares? I can see myself and others clearly with them now–so my vision seems to be improving (not deteriorating).
“So people now you know my story”…don’t judge me harshly as I humbly suggest that life can be filled with so much artificial bullshit! Sometimes the only “real” you will find is when you close your eyes and see with your heart. If thinking is required–sometimes it is better to shut off the louder voices in your brain and listen to the softer sounds of your soul instead. You may only hear a whisper at time–but if it feels real–listen to it and follow what it is telling you. My best decisions have been a direct result of what I saw in my heart and felt in my soul –rather than what my overworked and over-thinking brain sometimes pumped out trying to convince me to accept as “real”.
Tomorrow I will be at Jones Beach on Long Island. It’s one of my favorite places to get in touch with the “real me”! There’s just something about the sound of the waves and the seagulls–the wide open sky and the endless expanse of the ocean that allows me to breathe easier. This setting helps me believe in a reality that is bigger than just me. A reality in which I am but a tiny grain of sand on an enormous beach–or a tiny drop of water in an infinite sea. But just like the sand and water–I too was created by skillful hands and I am very–very “real”. What you see is what you get…my motto to live by. Ask and I will tell you –so be prepared.
I’ve learned to face the unpopularity of truth in certain circles–but it will never keep me from speaking it. I AM that friend who will tell you the there’s a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth–that your zipper is at half mast (guys) or that you are being an “asshole” (if you are) and though you may hate me now–you might actually thank me later (lol). Reality…what a concept! I pray for everyone to just learn to accept themselves as the perfectly imperfect– but totally “real” people they can be. I think we need to stand up (and stand together) against forces trying to convince us that we are not “good enough” just as we are. Indeed, voices that preach of a need to embellish our God given assets to such a degree– that we no longer recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror. Maybe it’s time to accept that “real” face we see staring back at us (without judgement) and to love it–just the way it is?
I reprinted because I LOVE THIS! Doris is a member of Lyndas Raven Army and a FB friend, a fan of my work, and a trusted member of my creative circle for so many years. Follow the link above to enjoy more of her musings.