I’ve heard the phrase “I hate fake people” a lot, and yes, I’ve said it a lot. Fake people are the worst! You know the type: those people who are always spewing out lies and constantly talking about themselves, presenting themselves as something other than who they really are. We can see right through them, and I get this icky feeling that grows in my stomach when I’m around them.
Weather I like it or not, I have been this type of person. I want to present myself in the best light, I want you, the perfect stranger, to see me as funny, enlightened, informed, educated, beautiful and successful. Even if I was all of these things, I’m still not perfect, and I don’t want you to see that. So I put on a mask to try and look perfect, but is that truly who I am? Thinking about the level of vulnerability required to present myself to others as being exactly who I am, without exaggerating my good qualities or hiding my flaws, is the most terrifying thing I could think to do. Caring about what people think to the point of changing who I am or hiding parts of myself is me being fake.
“When we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed.” Brene Brown (Daring Greatly, p 169). We need to take feedback, and filter it through trusted friends who know the truth, can speak that truth to us, and help us throw out the untrue feedback.
Let’s look at vulnerability in the form of Joy.
Here are three of the most joyful moments of my life: My wedding day, looking into my husband’s eyes while I tell him how much I love and appreciate him and time spent with my dad at 4 am in a little tin boat fishing on Lake Michigan, not talking much, but just sitting together. One thing that goes along with these most joyful times in my life is one thing; vulnerability. Vulnerability and joy go hand in hand.
I have lived a lot of my life believing that it is better to pretend to be happy, than to be filled with joy only to be robbed of it by disappointment. I think to myself, “If I live life expecting the worst and it happens, I won’t be disappointed. If I live my life expecting joy, I will likely be disappointed.” It’s a terrible way to live, let me tell you. Letting myself feel the full effects of joy is a vulnerable act. Pretending to be happy, putting on the mask of what I think others expect of me, or what I expect of myself; that is being fake. I hate fake people and if I want to see that change in others, I need to be that change first. I need to be vulnerable. I need to be brave enough to be who I am, and not be ashamed if someone else doesn’t like that.