Stop pretending! We have to stop pretending! Pretending that everything's okay when it's not; pretending that we're happy and satisfied when we're not; pretending that we know what we want when we don't; and pretending that we have all the answers--or any answers--when we have none. Don't get me wrong: some people are outright deceivers, and it's their goal to mislead others into believing they are someone or something they are not. But the pretending I'm talking about is not, necessarily, something we do intentionally, as though we set out to deceive the world around us. This has more to do with what we don't do, or yet, what we often don't say, because we're concerned about what other people might think. That's because we're so conditioned to thinking that if we become utterly-honest, somehow, we're not wearing our best face or putting our best foot forward. Heaven help us if, by chance, someone found out that we're really not okay, that we're really not happy, we're really not satisfied, that we really don't know what we want, and that we don't really have all, or any, solid answers to life's tough questions, including our own. Seriously, though, what do we genuinely have to lose for just being honest? Whatever might, supposedly, be lost, is it truly genuine and of real value?
Within one week, I had two very-telling conversations. The first was with a woman, who's very unfilled at work. Several years ago, after a long history in her very-established career, she was let go due to massive downsizing. After not being able to find employment that matched where she was before the downsizing, she finally took a less-than-ideal position because she didn't want to be unemployed any longer. During our conversation, she shared how she had finally acknowledged that she had been depressed. She said that prior to her own bout with depression, whenever she heard someone say they were depressed, she always thought, "Come on, just get over it!" But, she now knew that depression is very real and that she's glad she could finally admit that she was not okay. My second conversation was with a woman, who's also been looking for her "Next." She's been searching for work and has interviewed for several positions, trying to find the "right" fit in a position she would really want. Only thing is that, recently, she realized that, at this stage in her life, also after a long history in a very established career, she doesn't quite know what she really wants to do, so finding her "Next" has been quite difficult. Even though she's unsure, the breakthrough has been in being able to admit that, right now, she doesn't have concrete answers to questions she's repeatedly asked like, "What kind of position do you want?"; "What are you looking for?"; and "Exactly, what do you want to do?"
Somehow, we believe as though admitting what we believe to be less-than-favorable about ourselves is, somehow, admitting failure and will, in some way, keep us stuck and imprisoned in the circumstances we admit. But the exact opposite is true. After spending so much time, energy, and money pursing a certain career and type of work that, at some point, I thought I wanted, the day finally came when I had to admit that, in spite of huge investments and many sacrifices, I simply no longer wanted it. My appetite had changed, so not only did I no longer want it, I had to also admit that I didn't want to spend any more time or do one more thing to try to convince myself that I did or that I should and that if I didn't, something was wrong with me. But admitting this didn't keep me stuck on a treadmill I no longer wanted to be on. If anything, being honest enough to admit what I no longer wanted freed me from the bondage of staying on a path that I no longer wanted to travel but felt chained to because of my failure to admit otherwise--pretense.
Just because sometimes things are not okay, or because sometimes we are not okay, or because we no longer want the things we once wanted, or we do things we really don't want to do, or because we don't always have answers . . . none of these equate to pretending. We pretend when we don't admit that these things exist, especially when our failure to admit them is out of our fear of what others might think of us. How freeing it is to remove our own masks, with the least bit of guilt and the least bit of shame, and be able to say, "Things are not okay; I'm not doing well; I used to be so sure of what I wanted, but now I have no clue; and on top of all that, I have no idea where to even begin to turn my situation around." You may have to muster up the courage to make such a bold confession, but after you do, even if nothing changes right away, at least, you'll be free from the shackles of pretense and the fear of not having the validation, stamp of approval, and acceptance of others. So, again, let's stop pretending!
Like you, Katrina loves seeing people in healthy relationships (with themselves and others) that they genuinely enjoy and not just simply tolerate. This blog is dedicated to achieving that vision.