I’ve been thinking about how easy (or not) I find being who I really am in social situations. We all like to fit in, but I think being authentic is best for our mental health and self esteem. I realise that sometimes I make changes according to who I am with and may adjust my vocabulary when in conversation in order not to make others feel uncomfortable. Can we always be ourselves/genuinely authentic or must we employ the artifice of the chameleon?
St. Paul talks about being all things to all men, I see this as making adjustments in ourselves so we relate to others in the best possible way. There are people we are naturally drawn to and with whom it is easy to be ourselves with, I find that I seldom have to think too much about what I’m saying to them and can share very freely, secure in a mutual acceptance and understanding, we just ‘click’.
Social media has unleashed a whole new social circle in many of our lives. I am no longer part of any forums, although these used to mean a great deal to me. The first one I joined in 2004 was to provide support and friendship between women trying to conceive a child later in life … that said there were few actually childless women as most were seeking to have a further child with new partners! However for a time this provided a sense of support I didn’t find elsewhere. I have also joined a couple of faith-based forums which were not for me a success: either lacking in depth or too many ‘heavy’ issues to be comfortable. And in all the common denominator seemed to be that nobody could cope with differences of opinion and certain characters sought to dominate. I have made a few lasting connections through social media but nothing particularly close. I also wonder how genuine we were all being?
Real life friends and contacts are more valuable as there is greater authenticity. You cannot hide because you are not faceless, the clues are there in demeanour and tone of voice. Old friends mean shared history and for me this becomes increasingly important as I age. New(er) friendships can develop if we share a world view/faith or have a lifestyle in common.
It takes courage, but I am going to take a look at myself over the coming weeks and see how well I maintain my real sense of self in my everyday life, I really don’t want to be changing my (true) colours just to blend in!