With these words a friend I felt quite close to stepped out of my life. There were painful things that had happened on both sides leading up to this moment, but until then I had felt there was somehow a way back. After the e-mail that ended with the words above, it was clear that there was no trust left between us.
This came as quite a shock to me. I had not seen it coming, and it bothered me for a long time (there’s an explanation for that in my post When someone’s angry with me…). I felt hurt, and it took time for that wound to heal.
But that specific line, “stop being the nice girl, be real” is one that stuck with me for a while. It implied that being a ‘nice girl’ is a front I put up, a facade. And she may have had a point there. In how far is the ‘nice girl’ that I am an act, a way to make people like me, and in how far is it genuine? Was I not ‘being real’ around her? Am I my ‘real’ self around other people, and what does that really mean?
Being authentic to me means I’m the same around other people as I would be on my own. And that I’m the same around different kinds of people, that I don’t change my personality depending on who I’m with.
I’ve definitely become more of my authentic self over the past few years. Divorce has a way of kind of pushing you in that direction as well, since you suddenly have to face and present a version of yourself you never thought you’d see.
When I notice that I try to gauge other people’s expectations, when I start thinking ‘how would they want me to act in this situation’, I try to consciously return to myself. Check into home base. I ask myself: ‘Who am I in this situation? What do I want or need here? What do I feel towards the people around me?’
It’s often still a struggle to stay close to myself. But it gets easier with every single day, with every encounter. I start to feel and act more like myself among my colleagues and students, among strangers, and lose the last bits of facade among close friends and family.
So am I still a nice girl? As my authentic self? I found that that part of myself, the part that is kind and gentle and loving towards other people, is in no way an act. I genuinely want to treat people with kindness. It comes natural to me. I enjoy listening others, being with their joy or their pain. It’s a privilige to be allowed into people’s personal stories, and to offer them your attention and love in return. It’s the part of me that comes from a place of overflowing love, and it’s 100% real.
‘Be real!’ ‘
Yes, you’re totally right. I won’t let my environment decide who I am supposed to be. But…’ ‘
Stop being the nice girl’?