In the middle of a dramatic recounting of her adventures of the day, Zoey saw her brother give her an impatient little gesture from across the crowded church basement. “Oops, looks like he’s ready to leave,” she said.
“Finish your story first,” Claire begged. “I gotta know what happened to that girl you saw.”
“Alright,” Zoey sighed theatrically, though she loved entertaining her friends with her daily shenanigans. However, she knew her brother disliked waiting on her, so she tried to make the ending of her tale quick. Then she crooned, “Good night, my lovelies. See you on Sunday.”
With her friends’ returned sentiments floating behind her, she hurried across the floor teeming with youth. As Zoey joined her brother at the foot of the stairs, Kate, her youth pastor’s wife, waved at her. “Have a good night, Zoey.”
“Good night, Kate!” Zoey smiled.
She got into the car with Sean. He’d driven for a minute or two, when he asked, “Why so quiet? Usually you’re babbling all over the place after a youth event.”
Zoey toyed with a strand of her hair and continued staring out at the dark fields. “I know…” she finally said.
Sean threw her a sideways look. “Um, what?”
Suddenly she turned to him. “So I’m talkative, right?”
“Yeah, I guess…” he shrugged. “Why?”
Zoey sighed. “Okay, so you think I’m talkative. My friends think I’m outgoing, because I always talk when I’m with them. But when I’m with someone like Kate, I feel intimidated and I try to be super nice and quiet and… just nice. So is that being a hypocrite?”
“This is what I get for asking you why you’re quiet,” Sean muttered under his breath. Aloud, he answered, “Uh, I don’t know. Never thought of it.” Then he turned on the radio and listened to some politics talk show.
But Zoey’s thoughts kept going down the hypocrite line. She realized if she were ever arrested and the cops questioned people in her life, they’d get terrifyingly different results. If they brought in for questioning her best friend, her youth pastor’s wife, her brother, her boss, and the guys in her youth group… well, she’d probably be acquitted of her crime, because the cops would think all five of them were talking about different girls! Because while she loved regaling Claire and Emma with her stories, she hated talking to large groups of people. Her family might consider her a comedian of sorts, but her boss would find that idea of her being funny absolutely ludicrous.
When Zoey got home, she checked her social media. As she scrolled through her phone, a quote posted by a friend caught her eye. Emblazoned in a colorful script, the words leapt out at her. Be The Real YOU!!!
Zoey felt like screaming. Goodness, she wanted to be real. She didn’t want to live a lie all her life. She wanted to be genuine with everyone! But she wasn’t sure anymore which was the real Zoey Elizabeth. And that scared her.
Should she attempt to make her boss laugh more? Should she be quieter and more demure with Claire and Emma or should she make an effort to be more chatty with all other strange people? Somehow she felt that a lot of those scenarios would end tragically. So what was she supposed to do? How could she be real if she wasn’t sure who the real her was?
Being real. I’ve been plagued by a lot of ‘Zoey’s’ questions. (And yes, you guessed it, Zoey is essentially me, if you change enough of details.) I realized that if certain people in my life ever met and discussed me (haha), they would become horribly confused. I might talk about a certain issue or hobby or interest of mine with one person, but be passionate about something completely different with another friend. I felt that I was a hypocrite for being different around different people.
Recently I read a quote that summed up my feelings about all this realness quite well. It simply says I act different around certain people. It’s not because I’m fake. It’s because I have a different comfort zone around certain people.
Basically it says it’s okay to be different around different people. You are not as close to your coworkers as to your friends. You might talk about sports to your work buddy because he’s into it, but you might never discuss your favourite sports team with your grandma because well, yeah. Then again, you might discuss areas of your life with your grandma, but wouldn’t dream of sharing them with your coworker. You might be sarcastic with a certain friend, because you know she can handle it and finds it hilarious, but you make sure to be sweet and nice to your other friend because she doesn’t appreciate puns and sarcasm.
Disagree with me if you want to, but I don’t think that’s being fake. Of course, we’re not talking about intentionally misleading people into thinking you’re better than you are or putting up a pretty facade around certain people. Now that’s being a hypocrite and I don’t endorse that at all.
What I mean is that you are too complex to be described in two or three adjectives. All of you cannot be encompassed by saying that you’re outgoing, you’re funny, and/or you’re deep-minded. You have thousands of aspects to your personality. They get tweaked differently by different people. In other words, different people bring out different traits in you. It doesn’t mean that you’re not real with all of the groups of people; it simply implies that you have very varied interests and that you possess the ability to relate to people according to their personality or interests. It’s okay to relate differently to your boss than to your peers, because they need you to be different. Your boss likely needs a responsible, hard-working employee, while your friend might need someone chill to relax with him. You can do both without betraying ‘the real you’.
Being real simply means being true to yourself and being honest in your relationships. It means saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. It’s a whole lot less complicated than we often make it out to be.
Anyway, I’d love to hear your opinions about being real, as I haven’t quite sorted out all the implications. And… enjoy your November (PSA: You are officially allowed to listen to Christmas music after November 15! Yay!!)