Taking Risks: Permission To Be Real
“Most of us are familiar with the idea of keeping it real and have an intuitive sense about what that means. People who keep it real don’t hide behind a mask to keep themselves safe from their fear of how they might be perceived. They don’t present a false self in order to appear more perfect, more powerful, or more independent. People who keep it real present themselves as they truly are, the good parts and the parts most of us would rather hide, sharing their full selves with the people who are lucky enough to know them.
Being real in this way is not an easy thing to do as we live in a culture that often shows us images of physical and material perfection. As a result, we all want to look younger, thinner, wealthier, and more successful. We are rewarded externally when we succeed at this masquerade, but people who are real remind us that, internally, we suffer. Whenever we feel that who we are is not enough and that we need to be bigger, better, or more exciting, we send a message to ourselves that we are not enough. Meanwhile, people who are not trying to be something more than they are walk into a room and bring a feeling of ease, humor, and warmth with them. They acknowledge their wrinkles and laugh at their personal eccentricities without putting themselves down.
People like this inspire us to let go of our own defenses and relax for a moment in the truth of who we really are. In their presence, we feel safe enough to take off our masks and experience the freedom of not hiding behind a barrier. Those of us who were lucky enough to have a parent who was able to keep it real may find it easier to be that way ourselves. The rest of us may have to work a little harder to let go of our pretenses and share the beauty and humor of our real selves. Our reward for taking such a risk is that as we do, we will attract and inspire others, giving them the permission to be real too.” ~ Madisyn Taylor, Daily Om for November 12, 2014
“Keeping it real”–so much easier said than done. I think that most of us face this challenging issue every day. We work hard to foster the belief that we are happier, more courageous and more confident than we are in reality. We do so, not intending to deceive others, but as we learn from a young age, to hide any perceived “character flaws” that might subject us to unwanted criticism.
In many interactions, admitting to feelings, other than those that fit within societal expectations, expose us to ridicule or ostracism. As is the case in the animal kingdom, the evolutionary phrase “survival of the fittest” reigns in our society. For example, in the all important work environment, anything other than perceived strengths, jeopardize job advancement and standing. In society over all, respect and envy are reserved for those who seem to have it ‘all together;’ whereas, fear, doubt and weakness are vulnerabilities to be avoided at all costs.
The thing is that ‘being real’ requires us to choose courage and to embrace vulnerability–in spite of the outcome, be it good or bad. For most of us, that is a difficult choice to make. As Brené Brown states here in her Ted Talk “The Power of Vulnerability,” the original definition of courage is “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart,” that is, to be vulnerable. (I encourage you to take the time to listen to this talk as it is very powerful.) Yet, who wants to admit to fear, a lack of confidence, shame, envy, regret or any number of other negative feelings or emotions? Especially when doing so, broadcasts to our slice of the world that our lives aren’t as perfect as we’ve held them out to be. I know that I sure didn’t; thus, in this late 2013 post, I discuss my reasons for choosing the word “courage” as my aspiration for 2014..
Nevertheless, it also ensures that we are being honest with ourselves and others, and like the article suggests, inspires others to let go of the fiction that we have to feign perfection to succeed in life. “Keeping it real” is an invitation to acknowledge your imperfections as a means of overcoming them, and a way for others to know the real you, warts and all. As I stated in the earlier post that I referred to in discussing Brené Brown’s talk, “although vulnerability has its foundation in fear, shame and most other “negative” emotions, it is also the “birthplace” of creativity, love, joy, happiness, courage, and those emotions that we strive for. Vulnerability is not an option that we chose, it is a fact of life.”
Life is not meant to be perfect, and in reality, such a life doesn’t exist. As I read some where recently, “you were born to be real, not to be perfect,” and that is also a fact of life.