Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Being Real

My friend, the Commander, posted this on his Facebook wall, today:

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
-- John Wooden

Who are you? What is your character? What is your reputation? Are they the same? Are you honest about who you are? Do others know?

Lots of people clicked like on that post. Some of them are mutual friends of ours, and some of these friends are people who have encouraged others to "not give a shit what other people think" and to "let your freak flag fly, baby."

That's pretty awesome, isn't it? Don't we all want to be that way? Don't we wish that we really, truly, didn't care about what other people thought? A lot of people claim not to. I call bullshit.

Being real or honest about who you are takes a level of courage that a lot of people just don't have.

I used to be a member of a group called MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers). MOPS is an Christian organization serving close to 90,000 mothers and their children, mostly within the United States.

One of the messages that got repeated over and over and over again was that we all need to stop comparing ourselves and our children to other people. Just don't do it. Don't set yourself up for disappointment when you don't measure up to your own imagined standards.

Likewise, quit acting like you've got it all together. If you are a woman with children who are under the age of 6, you do not have it all together. When you pretend like you do (because you're convinced that everyone is watching and judging) you just end up making all the other moms who know you and are comparing themselves to you, and yourself, who you are also not being real with, unhappy.

After my third baby, I was a wreck. I was an inside, outside, upside down, can't keep it together and it shows, wreck. I hadn't slept in 3 years. I had two kids in diapers, and one who I was running back and forth to school every day, AND post partum depression that I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone about because I didn't want to admit to myself that I might be seriously nuts, and crap was seeping through the cracks of my "got it together" dam.

I had this friend. She was cute and perky. She worked out every day. She was outgoing, friendly, and, from my perspective, very genuine. She had 4 kids. Some of them were the same ages as some of mine.

I had her on the phone one day. I felt safe. "You know, I really envy you," I said. "I'm seriously falling apart and you're so good at keeping it together."

Her response surprised me.

"Oh good!"

Haha! You're all like, the bitch said what?!

"Oh good!," she said. "I'm glad it looks that way. I try really hard to make it look that way. Really, I don't know what I'm doing." She proceeded to tell me about her difficult childhood, absent mother, and how she had just sort of envisioned what a good mom was like and tried her best to be that, and to look like she knew what the heck she was doing.

That confession meant the world to me, but I can totally see why she wanted to put up a front. Here she is with 4 kids, and what if people knew she didn't know how to be a mom? Furthermore, who wants to go around telling all of their very personal and heartbreaking stories of a faulted childhood? People don't want to relive that shit. But, fronting does come with a price. You're always worried about someone finding out.

Yep. Being really real takes a hell of a lot of courage.

I hate to break your bubble, but being a freak is trendy right now. Being "ill" is trendy. Think Finding Nemo: "Achoo! I'm H2O intolerant." (Please don't think I'm saying that people fake illness. I'm just saying that it is commonly acceptable to discuss it if you have it.) Being outspoken (ahem, obnoxious) about your political views is trendy. Being an activist of any kind, is trendy. So, if you're letting your freak flag fly and having a great time doing it, good for you, but odds are, you still aren't being real.

Most people only like to show the things they have control over. The only exception I can think of are the people who have mastered the art of gaining attention by playing the pity card.

Also, peer pressure is alive and well. Does your freak flag fly at work? How about at school functions? Family reunions? Funerals? Macy's? The airport?

Generally speaking, we act the way people expect us to act. That's ok. That's how we function and get along as a society. It's how we keep our jobs and strength in our relationships and procure good things for our children.

Being real doesn't mean being rebellious all the time. It means taking a look at who you are and being honest about it. Sometimes, it's even difficult to be honest about the good stuff, especially if you are part of a peer group that glorifies rebellion.

Back to the Commander's quote. Does your character match your reputation? Are you what people think you are? Are you less than they believe? Are you more? Are you sure about that?

The easiest way to be real, to have a reputation that matches your character, is to accept the truth about who you are and who you want to be and to be honest with yourself about how big the gap is in between those two persons.

I'm pretty sure that's all. You can make changes if you want, but you don't have to. Simply accepting the truth and not trying to hide it from yourself is probably enough to throw the wheels into motion which make your reputation match your character.

That's bull.

After you get real with yourself, well, that's where the courageous part comes in; getting real with the rest of the world.

Before you can do that, maybe you need to make improvements. You may have some bad habits in need of a good beating. You may need some counseling to help you manage your emotions better. You may need to offer or seek forgiveness for something that's been eating away at you and making you a lesser person.

Or maybe you need to accept that you're actually pretty damn cool, and nobody is looking down on you because you whatever or never whatever. It's all in your head, and you actually have a good reputation that you're not living up to.

In the words of Petey Pablo "I'm not quite there yet but I'm getting better at it."

Personally, I do not under appreciate myself. Ask me if I'm awesome, and I'll start passing out buttons. Why deny the obvious? Exactly. And even with my astounding awesomeness, I see areas that need improvement. I'm pretty sure other people are aware of that, too. For example, it occurs to me that I might be a little vain.

I also have some trouble admitting that I am something of a social misfit. For the longest time, I didn't have a niche. I have something of a REPUTATION for being eclectic, because I am.

My kids are a little older, now. I'm part of a new group of moms: Moms Who Drink And Swear. Check it. ;)

I'm uncomfortable telling my Christian mommy friends about my drinking and swearing habits. It's even harder to admit to enjoying (and I mean REALLY enjoying) a few drinking and swearing adventures. I'm also uncomfortable telling my drinky sweary mommy friends about my love for Jesus. But this is who I am, and I have a lot more inner peace when I can look the world in the face, and tell the truth.

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