In which I wonder about the courage required for authenticity…

the_invention_of_lying02

We are sitting in a local cafe having a late breakfast. Julie is staring at my face intently, in a way that suggests something beyond mere interest in what I’m saying. She suddenly interrupts.

“You shouldn’t wear that eyeshadow you know. You’re too old”

She pauses for a moment then says with conviction

“Yep. Nah. Doesn’t look good”

She should know. In a former life, she was a successful make up artist, working on Hollywood movies.

I laugh.

“Ok. What should I be wearing?”

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I am at the hairdressers. I am trying to persuade my hairdresser, who has been cutting my hair for so many years that we’ve become friends, that he should give me a fringe. He’s being a bit evasive but is pretty much saying no.

“I’m not doing that”, he says. “You’ll regret it.”

“I won’t”, I say. “Why won’t you do it?”

He sighs.

“Because you’ll look ugly”

“That’s a bit harsh!’ I say, then we both laugh. And I don’t have the fringe.

*************************************************************************************************************************************

We are on the phone. I am relating the latest drama with my boyfriend. I can hear that she is getting frustrated with me.

“I don’t know why you put up with this shit. While you put up with this sort of shit, you’re just inviting it in, and it’s why you have the same relationship over and over. Fuck Wendy. You need to get in your power. You’ve only got yourself to blame!”

She is nearly shouting.

A week or so later we are in the car on the way back from somewhere or other.

“I want to talk to you about the conversation we had the other day. I get where you’re coming from, but I’m not you, you know. I know I’m doing some of this stuff, but I’m on a journey, and I can only be as far along it as I am at each moment. And when I tell you about it, it’s not necessarily because I want advice or for you to solve it, but I’m kind of working through it in my own mind as I’m telling you…And you were shouting”

“Oh” she says. We are both laughing.

“Was I shouting? I won’t shout”

*************************************************************************************************************************************

Over the last few years, there have been some tough times. People who I thought would be in my life forever, have come and gone, and I’ve whittled down my group to a small core of people that I trust absolutely, after experiences that could have led me to distrust everyone, especially friends.

I was wondering what it is was that these people have in common – given that they are so very different, and that some live in the Northern and others in the Southern hemisphere, so few of them have met.

And I think it is authenticity.

I think I’m blessed to have friends who are courageous enough, and love me enough, to tell me the really hard stuff. And they’ve told me some really hard stuff – way harder than the shocking revelation that your eyeshadow is for youngsters, and you are no longer a youngster. This sort of honesty means that when they tell you the good stuff – you know it’s actually true.

I think women are particularly bad at this (and this is perhaps why I’ve always had lots of male friends). Friendships that are based on only saying what you think the other person wants to hear (‘no – you look great in that dress’, ‘of course it’s not you – it’s him, the bastard’ etc etc), lead to relationships that are not based in trust. And of course trust is the basis of everything.

But I also think I am fortunate to have gone far enough in my own journey to be able to hear the hard stuff, to extract out of it what is meaningful for me, what I think is my stuff to deal with and what is theirs, and then to move on forever learning. This also means that when paid a compliment by the same friends, the negative self talk that so often interrupts the pleasure of being told something nice about myself is quietened – because I know these friends don’t bother saying it if it’s not what they truly feel. And when people are speaking to you from a place of authenticity, you just know.

And it makes me wonder – what would life be like if we all told the truth a little more? Both to each other, to ourselves and about ourselves? Scary but a little bit wonderful I think.

2 thoughts on “In which I wonder about the courage required for authenticity…

  1. I love the little snapshots, nearly made me spit my tea out all over my desk this lunchtime (with laughter, obviously)! I am trying to be more true to myself, getting rid of the ‘hangerson’ along the way. Great blog post, enjoyed reading 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Beth. Glad I made you laugh (hope your computer isn’t ruined!).

      Getting rid of the hangers-on can be a long process, but I think you’re already a pretty authentic person, so I think you’ll do good! xx

      Like

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