Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Name is Gail, and I'm a Phony

Lately I have thought a lot about how phony I am.
How falsely I present myself.
Here are a few examples:

I wear make-up almost every time I go out.
I wear push-up bras.
I sometimes wear jewelry made of cubic zirconia and other non-precious, expensive-looking stones.
I exercise regularly in order to keep the flab at bay.
I suck in my gut when my clothes feel snug.
I paint my toenails and shave my legs more in the summer than I do in the winter.
When someone asks me how I'm doing, I usually say, "Fine. How are you?" even when I want to sit down and cry right then and there.
I rarely tell people how I really feel, especially if what I feel is anything other than "fine."
I say, "It's delicious" even if I'm not at all enthused about something I'm eating.
I used to wait until people looked away and then add tons of sugar to my coffee and tea.
If someone asks me how they look, I usually say, "Great" even if I don't like the outfit.
I buy things I don't want or need when friends are selling stuff.
I sometimes accept invitations to events and meals when I would rather stay at home.
When I hear good news, I don't always say, "Praise God" like I want to.
When I hear bad news, I don't always say, "I will pray for you" as I should.
I try to write clever and uplifting blogs all the time, even though sometimes I don't want to write anything at all or I want to be critical about something or somebody in my life.

I know that there are certain social norms and rules that must be followed in order to save face, be polite, and keep family and friendships intact. I can't spill my guts to everybody who asks how I'm doing. Nor can I go around hurting people's feelings under the guise of honesty or authenticity.

But sometimes, often really, I don't want to eat anymore of what is being served, I don't like that color of clothing or wallpaint, and I don't want to hold my tongue when the truth needs to be spoken. At other times, I want to tell a stranger how beautiful or handsome I think they are, compliment them on a fashion choice, or comment on how much I agreed with something they said to someone else, usually a conversation I eavesdropped on. Sometimes I want to hug a friend or acquaintance and say, "I love you," but I worry about what other people will think of my action and declaration. So I go the way of the phony: I hold my tongue and keep my hugs to myself.

Slowly and surely, I am learning to release myself from certain societal expectations.
I am learning to speak the truth in love when it would be easier to lie.
I am learnig to tell friends, even friends who don't believe in God or in the power of prayer, that I will pray for them.
I am learning to listen to others and then tell them that I disagree with them.
I am learning to gently but firmly challenge people when I think they are offbase with their assumptions.
I am learning how to listen to people who disagree with me and not defend myself or my position.
I am learning that it is okay to say "I love you" - because who doesn't want to be told that they are loved?
I am learning to embrace the freedom of not caring what others think of how I look.
I am learning to wear what I like even if it is last year's style (or the year before last).

Most of all, I am learning to live more comfortably not only with my authenticity,
but also with my phoniness. The Lord knows I'm not about to give up my mascara or my prayer life.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post is something that should be read by anyone who is... human! I love this post. I love that you are being brutally honest. I love the fact that I feel better after I read this. I love you! I love your writting! You rock!!!!
Love Always, Kristiana

Lisa in Ohio said...

This is fabulous! I can soooo relate! I keep saying I'm going to write a book called "I'm not okay...and that's okay!" I HATE how we've gotten into this pretending mode over the years. Of having to be "on" all the time (or at least when we leave the house!) Please know that you're not alone in your distress. Congratulations on those goals. I'll print them off and try to do the same :-)