Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Rareness of Realness

I always thought it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.
- The Talented Mr. Ripley  

I was in high school when I rented The Talented Mr. Ripley one Friday night for family night--something my dad started after my parents got divorced when I was 11. While my mind may not have grasped every subtlety of the movie dedicated to a young man having a serious Single White Female style identity crisis--I just thought Jude Law was hot and had to see it because he was in it--I do distinctly remember agreeing with Tom Ripley when he managed those words. At the time I was 15 and like most teenagers I wasn't really comfortable with who I was, mostly because I didn't really know who I was. I knew who people expected me to be and I knew that wasn't necessarily me but I didn't know who me was, and therefore decided that like Tom being someone else would be so much easier. Eventually I grew out of that, puberty and wanting to be anyone but me. The funny thing is, the more real I am with me the more I realize how many people are real life Mr Ripley's trapped in lives that are far from who they really are in an effort to impress us all with their network, travels, iTunes libraries, Netflix queques, salaries, closets and relations. 

We all know the types, using religion, spirituality, materialism, elitism, the desire to belong and to not belong as a means to hide who they are from others for fear of rejection. I completely understand it. The world is a very "either you are with us or against us" kind of place where being who you are, raw and unfurled, can get your ass kicked or kicked out of your comfort zone Ask anyone who came out to an unsupportive family, an atheist in a room full of Christians, a feminist, someone fighting for their rights and the rights of others, or better yet anyone who has ever felt alone when they had to stand up for their beliefs. It hurts to be rejected for being who you are, especially if you are taught that who you are is wrong, bad or different.

The Spice Girls are still kick ass! 

I'm not that different--I am an odd mix of Daria, Quinn and Beyonce which means I love books, fashion and boys and I have a sarcastic sense of humor with kicking curves and a Southern drawl--but I was made to feel like I was wrong because I was a stereotypical American girl not a stereotypical BLACK American girl, whatever that means. So I learned to never say I preferred MTV to BET (that was way back when they both played videos), I actually loved reading the Crystal Cave, Dawson Leery was my secret crush and I blasted Jewel, Nirvana, Alanis and Lisa Loeb when I was sad and Britney, Spice Girls and Nsync when I wasn't--for the record everyone eventually got up on Britney, Nysnc and the Spice Girls because Justin Timberlake was hot sex, the Spice Girls were hella catchy and Britney turned into a total whore. The funny thing is 85% of this judgement was in my mind. I went to Catholic school and most of the girls were pretty average, it just wasn't until facebook was invented that I realized that I could've been myself all along. But when I talk about Single White Female and Tom Ripley types, I am not talking about teenagers with minor identity crises. I'm talking about full fledged adults who never learned that the only person judging you is you, even if you're talking to me and I tend to come off as judgmental...I'm not at all but I am a snob, that's another blog post.

While these two groups of people, teenagers and adults having identity issues, seem ages apart they are in fact stuck in the exact same mire. If I would have never realized that not only was I the only one judging myself before anyone else could but that the people who were judging me did not know me enough to do so, I would have stayed in a place where I pretend to be something I'm not so that people can like me for being a success, whatever that means. Guess what? Whether or not people like you is not your business. Your business in life is for you to like you. If you can fall asleep at night happy as a clam with who you are whether you are rich or poor, fat or thin or if you talk like Marlene Dietrich in clothes made by Balmain or not, there will be no shortage of people lined up to hang out with the you that is you. If you, however, make a habit of lying to yourself to get through everyday conversations with strangers to prove to them that you do belong, eventually you learn not to trust yourself or anyone else. So stop trying to be someone and start  being you, I mean being someone else seems tiring and I don't have that kind of energy or time to waste.

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