Recently, I watched 6 Month Rule, a lesser-known film that goes against the typical rom-com in a big way. For starters, the main character, Tyler, is not even likable. I don’t know how else to say it except this: he is the perfect mix of player and douche-bag.
When Tyler falls for the artsy, self-expressed Sophie, she turns his world upside-down. In one scene, she calls him on all his sh*t in just a few lines. I was instantly captivated by this dialog because it explains what we so often see.
Sophie: I already know who you are Tyler, I’ve got your number.
Tyler: You do huh? Go on, tell me what you’ve figured out.
Sophie: I don’t think you can handle it.
Tyler: Try me.
Sophie: [takes a deep breath] At some point in time years ago you created an idea of what “cool” was. Maybe it was The Fonz, or maybe James Bond…whatever the case, you decided this is how you wanted to act. So you walk around acting like this cool guy, putting on a front that you know is not the real you. Most women actually buy this and they love you for it.
But because you know this is an act, you don’t respect anyone who buys it. And because you disrespect anyone who accepts your facade, you end up alone and unhappy with all of your relationships because no one knows the real you.
Tyler: You’re saying this like I need to change, like I need to be fixed. I don’t need to be fixed.
Sophie: That’s the saddest part about it. You don’t even know you’re broken.
Are you trading authenticity for cool?
I began to wonder: How often do people get stuck in a pattern of trading authenticity for cool? And what is the impact on their relationships?
Here are some clues you’ve made the trade:
- You stuff your feelings for fear of being “found out.” The moment a sense of vulnerability creeps up, you unthinkingly cover it up with something that feels safer and doesn’t compromise how you think you should appear.
- You diminish or even avoid moments of true connection. In a rare occurrence of “seeing and being seen”—two people present in an authentic moment of connecting—you immediately put your guard up to avoid having your hidden parts be seen.
- You place rules around communication.
- You’d rather play games than tell the truth.
- You find yourself uneasy around people who are comfortable in their own skin.
The Key to Authenticity
Even though it may be uncomfortable, awareness is the key to making any lasting changes.
If you recognize that you have a tendency to act a certain way in order to avoid true self-expression, this is a huge first step. Congratulations!
A big reason we don’t let our true self shine is we are not intimately familiar with ourselves. We can go decades without knowing who we truly are. It takes honest introspection, listening, and acceptance to come to terms with our true Self. This is the whole point of practices like yoga, meditation, journaling, and even athletic endeavors like hiking or cycling that get us in ‘The Zone.’ No matter the practice, the goal is to find a deeper connection with our Self, to notice our patterns, to consciously choose more appropriate patterns, and to be kind to the person we discover within us.
When we accept our true Self as being a beautiful, worthwhile human being, we can confidently share our true selves with others.
[photo: via flickr]