I’ve had a lot of great conversations lately with people who, like us, struggle to understand how other people are “getting through” with seemingly so much more panache, or grace, or even just without scmootz on their blazer…
Here’s what I actually think: they are not real.
They are our perception, or a delicately built facade meant to impress us – either way – why are we so interested? Common – you know you ‘re interested too. You’re supposed to be in bed/at work/paying attention at that dinner party but you are trolling google to read more, or can’t stop thinking about that person – and how they do it all.
And then there are the people who would never admit to being interested – whether it’s for lack of time, interest or because they are that self-fulfilled. Are they for real?
I don’t understand why we have this built in fear of what everyone will think. It’s so powerful. It shapes so much; our response, our choices and ultimately the mask we put on for the world. Whether it means not admitting to that time we forgot to pick up our kid, or the time we lost it and cried in the bathroom for an hour, put a cup of salt in the soup instead of a tablespoon, bombed a presentation, or went for an epic drive to try to see if one really could just run away… Or that we only post on facebook when things are super fabulous, when we won the race, had perfectly polished kids, or an amazing vacation. Why do we do it? I know I’m totally guilty.
And yet when I laugh with my sister about my little blog with no commenters where I spill my guts to an audience of 6 – she admits to me that she’d never put so much of her life ‘out there’ for judgement. Colleagues and friends say very similar things – they have these brilliant ideas, robust lives and real experiences – but only the pretty is shared on facebook, instagram and email. It might be because these people have more respect for your time, and don’t want to bore you – but I think it’s much deeper than that. I think there is a fear of what you’ll think….
Do you think you’re better than me because I spell poorly? Because I place high value domestic efforts? Because we had 3 kids within 17 months? More importantly … who are you and why do I care so darn much what you think?
I care. Not because I want to – but it’s just a part of my dna. I have those vacation photos and pretty kid shots on f/b because I want to share that wonderful part of my life with you. And because I care I have grown to respect the real people SO much more. The friend who looks like she’s got it all figured out, and is not at all afraid to share she doesn’t. The stranger who doesn’t offer advice or a judgemental eye when I’m struggling to get my screaming kid out of the grocery store, but instead chooses to give me a smile and say ‘been there – you’ll get through it’. The senior leader who admits to the failings in her personal life as the expense she was willing to pay (at the time) for her success in business. The quiet clever colleague who has the whole mess figured out but doesn’t need to stand on anyone elses’ back to proclaim it. You are the person I choose to respect and admire. Your honesty and compassion and humility is refreshing and inspiring.
So, tonight I raise a glass to the ones who keep it real (and in the spirit of that I’d admit that said ‘glass’ is actually a spoon full of chocolate icecream). Thank you. You inspire me to try, and to be a little less afraid of what everyone will think when I do.