The Gift of Being Real
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** This post is part of a 14 day series. To read more of my “The Gift of…” posts, scroll to the bottom of this post for links.
I don’t get to visit her very often, but when I do, she’s ready with a really good cup of coffee.
And sometime during our chat, she always says the same thing.
“I’m so glad you could come visit. I always feel like I can let my hair down when you’re here.”
The first time she said it, I heard it as a compliment.
The last time we visited, I took it more like a confession from her.
Because by that time, I’d witnessed how she behaved in a group of mutual acquaintances—laughing at all the right things. Smiling at all the right times. Being shocked by things that “should” shock her, and politely ignoring other things as if on cue.
So what she meant by I can let my hair down when you’re here was I can be real and I can be myself and I don’t have to pretend.
Y’all, pretending is exhausting.
So let’s maybe give it up.
Permission to speak freely, sir?
When we hear people who have the guts to be real, it’s sometimes like a palm brought hard against the face.
We hold our cheek, expecting to have to rub away the sting, but instead are comforted by the feeling of being smacked alive.
We latch on to those people who have the guts to be real. We stalk them on social media, and we’re drawn to them in real life. They make us feel okay about the life we’re living. They cut through all the tangled mess that once buried the things that aren’t supposed to make up our reality—but almost always do.
As an author and blogger, it simultaneously warms me—and bums me out—that readers can be so thankful for honesty and authenticity.
Thank you so much for being brave enough to affirm what I’ve been thinking the whole time.
Thank you for coming out and saying that because I thought I was the only one who felt that way.
Thank you for being real.
We are never the only one.
We’re just tend towards sewing our mouths shut about all the experiences we share.
You’re just so real.
I just feel like I can be myself around you.
It’s so nice to not have to pretend when you’re here.
Life happens. This is all real.
Being real means being able to be yourself. It means honesty.
It doesn’t just mean not having to deep clean before your friend comes over or admitting how much of the ice cream tub you ate last night. Being real also means saying the things that we don’t want to say or hear.
Like, soccer might not be your thing, junior.
Or, no we can’t afford to go to Mexico with you.
It’s being able to look at a friend and know she’s in a bad relationship. And it’s being in a bad relationship and being able to hear your friend point it out.
Did you catch that last one? Let me reiterate.
It’s that friend who can look at your life and point out that you’re headed down a bad road. But—and here is the thing we sometimes miss—it’s also being that friend who can be honest and accept hearing that.
The being real isn’t just about being able to tell people something.
It’s about being able to hear it yourself.
Can we be real about confrontation?
Some of what’s underneath our inability to be real is that we’ve forgotten how to deal with confrontation.
If everything stays safe and we don’t offend anyone, if everyone smiles and doesn’t feel wronged ,we don’t have to deal with anyone’s anger. There will be no confrontation. So it’s easier to just say everything is okay and walk away.
I consider people who are brave enough to be real a true gift—especially in the middle of something tough.
Oh, sure. People who will candy coat things for us are sweet, and they certainly make life fluffy and comfortable to live in. We know we can run to them when we need a pat on the back and an it’s going to be ok.
And there are times we need to hear things like that.
But there are also times we need to hear the other side of things—the way things really are. And chances are, you know of the person(s) in your life who will tell it like it is.
These are the people who live it like it is. They’re not afraid of being who they are. They’re not afraid of how things work out. They’re not afraid of what people think. They take the ups with the downs of life—freely talking about both—because well, “it is what it is”.
And to be clear, not being afraid of who you are or saying what needs to be said is not synonymous with obnoxious or rude or over-the-top or disrespectful. And if that’s where someone heads in an effort to speak or live the truth, it means we’re going backwards as a society.
Life requires authenticity.
When we started out on our homeschooling journey a decade ago, I surrounded myself with Candy Coaters. And I think that’s pretty common when you’re starting out, because you just want to believe that everything will be ok.
And so I surrounded myself with people who supported my belief that if I chose the right “whatever” and did things a certain way, homeschooling would turn out to be daisy chains and snuggly puppy dogs and my children probably would maybe grow up to find the cure for cancer or end world hunger or at least win a national spelling bee.
And that was great.
Until I realized that’s not how it works.
As it turns out, homeschooling—like most things—is not always daisy chains and puppy dogs. Homeschooling—like most things—can be really hard. But when you’re hearing from all the plastic smiles around you that it’s not—that can really mess with your head space.
That’s why people who are real are a gift. People who will agree that yes, this is hard and not make you feel like a jerk for thinking so. People who let that candy coating melt and let you inside to see all their faults and mistakes and screw ups and what they think is hard or impossible or just plain not worth it.
People who will say, “I hate teaching math. Care for a chocolate?”
This doesn’t just apply to homeschooling, though, because Lord knows we struggle in so. many. other. areas of life, too. So, we need those people who are genuine and authentic and real. Those people who let you know you’re not nuts for struggling or having a hard time or wanting to throw in the towel, because they’ve—unashamedly—been there, too.
And that’s why they are such a gift.
Enjoy the people around you today who dare to be real.
And if you’re not already, dare to be real yourself.
You never know who is watching that could use your authenticity.
THIS POST IS PART OF A 14 DAY SERIES,
WRITTEN ACROSS BOTH SITES THAT I RUN.
Gift #1 — The Gift of an Open Door
Gift #2 — The Gift of One of Those Days
Gift #3 —The Gift of a Dog’s Friendship
Gift #4 — The Gift of Mess
Gift #5 — The Gift of Our Silence
Gift #6 — The Gift of Routine
Gift #7 — The Gift of Community
Gift #8 — The Gift of Three Things Unsaid
Gift #9 — The Gift of Perspective
Gift #10 — The Gift of Being Real
Gift #11 — The Gift of a Bowl of Corn
Gift #12 — The Gift of Encouragement
Gift #13 — The Gift of Unanswered Prayers
Gift #14 — The Gift of Actually Listening