The O.S.: The Real Deal

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about honesty and authenticity and genuineness.  Based on my silly, meaningless observations (code for “please don’t take this personally, I’m taking liberties with broad sweeping stereotypes”), different areas of the country can be broken down into varying degrees of genuineness.  

Here in New England, we wear our comparative hearts on our sleeves.  We are who we are, and we don’t care what you think.  Really, we don’t care.  This obviously comes with inherent flaws.  In the Midwest, everyone is nice to everyone.  I can’t tell you how initially disconcerting it was to walk down the streets of Chicago and have a complete stranger draw your eyes to theirs and lock eye contact like some sort of freakish tractor beam, smile at you, then say hello.   It made my skin crawl for a long time.  It seemed like an invasion of my personal space.  Everyone seemed to be attempting this perfect outward projection of him/herself, or rather, what they thought was desirable to their peers, thus who they really were could be dramatically different than their projected persona.  I referred to this as “fake nice”.

I’d put the South in the same family, but as a different animal entirely.  South = nice.  As in, maple syrup on top of chocolate chip pancakes covered with fudge sauce, whipped cream, and a sprinkle of pink sugar for presentation.  Sweet and sticky nice.   However, these good folks are known for such an extreme sense of hospitality that it has to be at least moderately genuine. 

Jea-nnie, who can resist that drawl?  No one.  source

We won’t even get into those West Coasters. Talk about a different culture and set of societal constructs.  How do they feel about this? 

They’re stoked

This is all only an introduction to what I want to cover this morning:  Why is it that 100% of the times we are asked how we are, we reply that we’re doing well?   The probability of actually being “good” 10 out of 10 times is not actually, well, good.  Those people closest to me know that “fine” is practically the kiss of death.  You might as well pick up your cell phone, call the state hospital, and have them send men in white coats with a straight jacket to come strap me down, because I’m probably on the verge of a mental breakdown.  I’ve had my days.  Some of you might be laughing while reading this because you’re uncomfortably aware how close to the truth it is.  My goal is to ban “fine” and “ok” from my conversational repertoire.  Don’t get me wrong - there should be laws to regulate sharing appropriately.  There are things I probably don’t want to and should never know about you (underwear color, skin condition, favorite lip gloss).  But while each of us shouldn’t wallow in self-pity or over-share, there is something refreshing about a healthy, honest response to that basic human question:

“How are you?” 

Fine.  Well, today’s been rough.” 

Why are we quick to share in each other’s joy, but not our pain and struggles.  Friends and family are often referred to as a support system, right?  Well, let them in; let them support you.  Friendships are like everything else in life, an investment - you get out what you put in.  Relationships take work, and sometimes you’re the one being invested in and other times you’re doing all the investing.  Be ok with that.  Even the most seemingly well-adjusted, happy person has things lurking below the surface that keep them up at night.  It takes a bit of a leap of faith to allow one’s self to be vulnerable, but what’s the worst that could happen?  You might get rejected a hug and you’ve managed to tighten the bond with your friends?   Gee, that sounds lousy.   

Do yourself a favor.  Take the risk.

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts from a great sister. If you need to call in the crazy police though, skip the state hospital and just call me. This way, I can have you straight-jacket me, and then I'll buckle yours...


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