The band, Ben Folds Five, sings a song called,” Best Imitation of Myself”. This is how the song begins:
“I feel like a quote out of context / Withholding the rest/ So I can be free/ what you want to see/ I got the gesture and sound / Got the timing down/ It’s uncanny, yeah, you think it was me/ Do you think I should take a class to lose my southern accent/ did I make up, or make the face till it stuck/ I do the best imitation of myself.”
When I heard these words the other night, I thought, “WOW! That is how we are, isn’t it? ”
We all have a filter…or most of us…And that means that we know what to say, how to act, what is appropriate, what will be well-received ACCORDING TO WHOEVER it is that we happen to be around at that moment.
Now, I KNOW that there are celebrities who are famous or infamous…and people on reality shows…(and maybe even a few people that we know personally in our real life!?!) who do not seem to possess the gene that reigns “normal people” in before they expose themselves…before they show their “over-the-top” parts. Generally, “civilized people keep themselves in check….at least out in society.
But then, celebrities and people on reality shows are actually paid to be over-the-top, right? They have to keep their name in the spot-light for some type of crazy shenanigan on a regular basis or fear the MOST TERRRIBLE thing imaginable…that they will no longer be in the spot-light. Their name will not be known. Their fame will be lost…and then WHO will they be?
I have lived in the South most of my life, but I have known people from other places…and I have to say based on my observation, Southern people are THE BEST at letting you see only what they think you want to see. Heaven forbid that somebody might hang something out on the laundry line that is spotted or soiled! “Sweep it under the carpet!” “Keep it in the closet!” Too much REAL is sometimes too much for Southern sensibilities.
Of course REDNECKS and Good OL’ Boys are in a Southern class of their own…If you drive a dually truck..or any truck that is not girlie… wear a ragged, sweat stained baseball cap -forward facing OF COURSE! and low over the forehead; have a gun rack…or wish you had a gun rack, then YOU are not the Southern population I speak of. YOU are typically very outspoken about your beliefs and thoughts and just as outspoken about the error in other peoples ideas and thoughts. You are not terribly concerned with upsetting people or showing people the” real” you, because if they don’t like it, you can run them over with your truck or shoot them with your gun, or at least make them believe you are capable of it and not afraid to do it! I actually, kind of, commend you for being you. At least I know who I am dealing with.
The Sotherners…and others that should be Southerners, that I speak of are the ones that are so afraid of not appearing genuine and hospitable and domesticated and civilized and of good breeding and genteel that they are not REAL. They are indeed civilized and hospitable and genteel but they are characatures of people who actually have dimensions and substance. Oddly, what you see may be actually exactly what you get! It isn’t a “put on”! It is just so many years of acting the part makes it impossible to separate the individual from the character.
I have said it before, and I am sure I will say it again (like right now)… PLEASE give me people I can tell what I am dealing with! Don’t withhold the rest…don’t just give me what you think I want to see. I don’t want you to think you know me based on what I make up just for you. I don’t want to “make the face till it stuck”. I don’t want to “do the best imitation of myself.” I don’t want you to be an imitation of yourself.
What are we so afraid of showing? Or what are we so afraid of seeing? Do we really think that if people really knew us that we would be rejected?
What if the opposite were true? What if we all felt free to truly be ourselves? What if we put ourselves, whole and real…not select or imitation…selves on display for the world to see? Warts and all? People would be able to sift through and find people based on genuine things: true likes and dislikes…true beliefs and dreams. The imitation is not us… and if that is who we are liked for, then we are doing ourselves and our “friends” a disservice because they don’t truly know or love US at all.
Bernard M. Baruch said, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
Karen E. Quinones Miller said, “When someone tells me ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”
Tyra Banks said, “Never dull your shine for somebody else.”
Carlos Castaneda said, “We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
Richard P. Feynman said, “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”
The bottom line is BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. Everything we do and everything we say and every choice we make CAN”T be made with the worry and doubt of ” what will other people think?” “What will other people say?” Instead, confidently make choices based on what after prayerful consideration seems right and good and true. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead.
I fear for people who are not able to make a decision based on their true genuine response. I fear that there will be a day when they are unable to make any decisions without external help or cues. Personally, I would rather be directed by the HOLY SPIRIT and God’s Word instead of the whims of popular or conventional wisdom. If I receive a frown or a criticism for something that I say or do then I might be saddened that I was misundestood by someone else…but at least I will know that my intention was not to impress or to social climb or to pretend to be someone other than me.
I know who I am. I absolutely KNOW who I am. You can love me or you can hate me, and either way I am ok because I will not be something I am not for any man…or woman. Do you know who you are? Do you know what directs your actions and choices and thoughts? Are you swayed by pressure to conform, to be accepted to be acceptable…do you “withhold the rest”…and only let us see what YOU believe to be your best? Well, did you consider that maybe we would like the rest too? Because maybe we want to know YOU.
Do you know WHO directs your actions, choices and thoughts? Your spouse? The newsman? The politician? The preacher? Your neighbors or friends or coworkers? Your parents?
Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”
Henry David Thoreau said, “I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
“This is what the Lord says: ‘ Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord…But blesses is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 5-8
My trust is in the Lord. I will be me…God’s child. Thank you, God.