There is probably nothing that matters more to me than integrity. I have worked hard in my life to be more inclusive. I make space for LGBTQ+ people and try to be accepting and inclusive. I have learned about systemic racism and how to be anti-racist and not just “not racist.” Because of my grandson, I am learning about compassion and how to make time for those with differing capabilities.
It’s not always easy to be inclusive and spend time with some people, but making an effort is usually worth it.
But, even though I have broadened my horizons, there is one type of person I cannot put up with. I literally have zero time to give to people who are imitating others. I know we all do this to some extent to protect ourselves, but I have little patience for it. Maybe someday I will grow — but, as of today, I am more apt to tell people “You need to find out who you are,” than to put up with and enable this type of behavior. Oscar Wilde said,
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ~Oscar Wilde
I realize part of my aversion to phony people is because I desperately want to avoid this pattern. In my new book, Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity, I developed the idea that we can be where we are (presence), but also be WHO we are (authenticity). I even have a tattoo with the Chinese characters for authenticity. I desperately want to develop the courage to live my life fully this way – being who I am.
Yesterday, I interviewed two people who felt the confidence to be who they were. One of them told me about when she wanted to end her life. The other brought her dad to the interview that had never done a podcast before. I’m sure they both had their anxieties and wanted to do their best, but for the most part, we were all fairly honest and transparent about what we hoped for in the world and where we often fall short.
I want to live in a world that is authentic. I don’t want a “fake-it-till-you-make it” journey. I want us to admit our shortcomings even if we’re striving for something better. I want us to be vulnerable in sharing our struggles even if it is painful to do so. I want us to take the time to become something, instead of inventing a façade.
If we want, we can find temporary adulation from others by acting like we think they want us to. But, ultimately respect only comes when we live out of authenticity.
Maybe a worthwhile endeavor would be to find some quiet time during the holiday to find ourselves. Who are we? What makes us truly happy? What is the song WE want to sing? What is OUR story?
It’s not a bad thing to want people to love us. I think we all want that. But what we do not want is for people to love us because we are being someone else. That is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Ultimately, our tribe will be the people that appreciate and love the authentic version of us.
Don’t be a copy – Be who you are!
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!