There are really only two kinds of people in the world: real, authentic, genuine folks that don't care much about what others think, and then there are fake, self-absorbed plastic people whose self-worth is found in the opinions of others. Many times I fall in the latter category.
I'm sure as you read the description above of the two types of people in the world, you could pull out things from both and think, "man, I feel like I'm authentic," or "I wish I were more genuine," or perhaps, "I wish I weren't so interested in pleasing others." Whatever the case may be for you, I've come to a point where I've decided enough is enough.
“On one side, we want nothing more but to have true and authentic relationships, while on the other we can't help but want to do what people expect of us, even if it's not really who we are.”
Let me set one thing straight. I am not trying to put some blanket statement on everyone and say you can and only will be one of these two kinds of people. But in fact, what I'd like to make clear is that there is an incredible, undeniable tension in the heart of man between these two extremes. On one side, we want nothing more but to have true and authentic relationships, while on the other side we can't help but want to do what people expect of us, even if it's not really who we are.
The Desire to be Real
Deep down everyone wants to be seen for who they really are. Shakespeare in Hamlet wrote,
"This above all: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."
Being authentic, real, and genuine is hard though. Many times we feel that we can be honest with some and not others—for fear of what they might think or do when they see the "real" us. Some might call that wisdom, to be real with some while withholding around others, I haven't decided yet. I reckon you can be authentic without airing out your laundry, just as long as you don't convince people that you don't have any laundry.
We all want to be real, but how can you be when no one else is? It just doesn't seem to last.
The Draw to be Fake
No one in their right mind will ever say that they like being fake... but it's true. You've been there... A person walks up to you that you don't particularly care for, and you put on the smile, say something nice, walk away, and roll your eyes because deep down you can't stand them.
What potentially is even worse, is when a person asks, "how are you" and we give the standard response... an enthusiastic, “Good!" Were they being real when they asked you? Were you being real when you responded? Or has our culture driven into us so deeply that we need to care for one another on an inch-deep level, and we must always appear to have it all together?
I mean, what would happen if someone actually told us they were not doing good? PANIC would immediately set in. We would begin to calculate our time and energy levels to see if we are prepared for this kind of conversation right now.
What would life be like if we didn't feel like we were inconveniencing those around us by sharing our worries, fears, and anxieties with them? What if we all realized that none of us really have it together?
Here's the bottom line. Being real is legit a day-to-day thing. Having a solid relationship with Jesus is kind of the key on this. The more we become like the Savior, the less we look like the fake. The more our lives reflect His Glory, the more we tend to love people the way He does—and it's really hard to be fake because He is never fake.
Don't sit here and tell yourself you're real if you know you're not. But for sure don't believe that you're stuck in the fake when that's not true. Wake up today and ask the Lord to help you be more like Him... Authentic, genuine, caring, loving, and real to every person you meet and every situation you find yourself in. Take it a day at a time. Be real, let's do it together!