I find it equally amazing and distressing that so many artists think they have to “be” a certain way to be acceptable to the world or so that everything goes right for them. They put on their positive faces, because to be seen to be negative has become a modern day sin, it seems. For one thing, you’ll be treated like a leper, in case all that negativity is infectious. Increasingly, though, people are silently screaming behind their facades. They feel like in presenting their professional, how they’re supposed to be, perfect brand persona to the world, it isn’t honest.
Honesty takes courage. It’s uncertain how people will relate to your honest self. There is risk attached. You might be rejected. You might never work again. Showing your vulnerabilities, to the world, for all time, seems like a very frightening thing to do. That’s because it’s terrifying. No two ways about it. Putting your real self out there, including the vulnerabilities, seems like setting yourself up for being a sitting duck, which anybody that feels minded to do so can take pot shots at and in your vulnerable state, there will be no way of defending yourself against them. Yep, that’s pretty much it. You’re ready to be punished for admitting to who you are, in public.
Funnily enough, though, when people see somebody being honest and exposing their vulnerabilities, they generally do not react with aggression or ridicule. If they are honest with themselves, they’ll recognise a kindred spirit. They have their own vulnerabilities too and up until you showed yours, they may not have had the courage to expose their own. You might be seen as inspirational and brave, rather than broken, tormented, confused, tattered and torn. Imagine that. By showing your true self, not the manufactured, glossy, self-confidence oozing, brand consistent, unrealistically positive wonder miracle that you thought you had to project, you wind up winning people over. Sincerity is a winning formula. It connects us to each other. You discover that your choices are wider than “smile or die”.
Being who you are is a more comfortable state of existence, when it all comes down to it, because it helps you find your tribe, while making it easier than ever to discard those still playing the fake face game or who take the opportunity of your mask slipping to vilify you. You don’t really need those people in your life, do you? Better to flush them out than to pretend they might really be fabulous. The truly fabulous, on the other hand, will embrace your honesty – because they’re fabulous in actual fact. Fabulous people are like that. By being who you are, you get to spend more time with people like you, who like you and with people that are utterly fabulous in reality. You’ll also get to spend less time with people who were only waiting around long enough to find a chink in your armour to attack mercilessly. How lovely is that?
We don’t know it all. The best art involves uncertainty and doubt. You might not have a clue about what you’re doing or how it’s all going to turn out, but as long as you remain true to the idea that you are going to figure it out, then all’s well. You don’t need to have all the wisdom and experience up front. Nobody hands you a recipe or a script. You have to work it all out. You can’t have perfect certainty of execution or glib self confidence when you’re trying to do something genuinely new, that nobody else has ever done before and that you, yourself, are doing for the very first time. You’re going to face challenges and obstacles. How you face those, with determination, vulnerability, courage and a will to figure it out, is what separates you from the also rans.
It might seem easier to run and hide. It could feel easier to not face having to explain your inner feelings to the world. It’s undoubtedly easier not to put it out in print. Far easier to put the fake face back on and carry on as if nothing was the matter.
Unfortunately, your integrity won’t let you do that. What seems the easier option will, in the long run, prove to be the harder position to maintain. The frustrating internal conflict and the need to continue to weave an ever more elaborate web of minor deceptions will take its toll. In the end, you will have no choice but to be who you really are.
So why delay? Be who you are now and avoid the last minute rush. It’s not like you can really be who you are not anyway. Why not be who you are and deal with the reactions and consequences as they arise? You might find the feeling turns out to be much better than you thought.
You really can only be who you are, in truth. If being who you are doesn’t suit everybody, that isn’t a problem for you to solve. You’re not supposed to be a piece of clay, to be shaped to suit every person you encounter. You’re you. You are what you are. If some reject that, then ok. Others are just as likely to embrace your “you-ness”.
Have the courage to present yourself to the world as you really are.