Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Authenticity

Mr. Wonderful and I often joke with each other about how we better never expect one another to change because we've both been the same people we are right now for as long as we can remember. We're set in our ways. Defined in our personas. Consistent in our behavior. Thankfully, we both like each other's unwavering personalities.

Although I wouldn't call myself averse to change, I don't often seek it out. I like familiarity and comfort. I like knowing my way around—places and people. Some of my closest girlfriends have been in my life since kindergarten. I've lived in the vicinity of my childhood home almost my entire life. I still love Grease as much as I did when I was 4.

I do not understand people who can swing back and forth like unstable pendulums. I have a very hard time when I don't know whether someone is being authentic or a chameleon. It just doesn't compute with me. And frankly, I think people like that are doing themselves a great disservice. Because in one or another (or yet another) dimension of their lives, they are not being who they really are.

Several years ago, after our break up, one of my ex-boyfriends began actively attending church—something he never did when we were together. At one point, we were having a conversation and he told me he believed that if you didn't accept Jesus as your personal savior, you were going to hell.

My brain scrambled.

Not just because that notion seemed ludicrous and there was no way the God I believe in would ever punish a good person simply because they'd never had exposure to Christianity, but because my ex-boyfriend suddenly looked like a stranger to me. He was not the person I once knew.

And once you show me that you're a complete departure from the person I thought you were, it's really hard for me to want to maintain a relationship with you. I want the person I signed up for in the first place. Not the swinging pendulum.

This may make me seem short-sighted, close-minded and judgmental. But at least I know it about myself. At least I'm consistent. At least I'm authentic. And at least the people in my life know they can count on me to continue holding them to the same standards I have since I met them.

There are no chameleon scales underneath this skin.


  1. What I'm taking away from reading this is when you say you're not adverse to change you're actually extremely adverse to change and you want all your friends to be that way too. I think one of the prices of entry of friendship is allowing people to grow in ways they think they need to, and while you don't have to embrace it, love them all the same even if it throws you. It doesn't make them chameleons - in fact it probably makes them their more authentic self. The idea of not changing is the one I'm adverse to. Change doesn't mean you have to give up who you are or the things you like - I still like Grease as much as I ever did. But I'm not the same person as when I first saw it. Swinging back and forth like a pendulum usually is a sign of something more serious. Change is something that usually, in my experience, happens slower - more of an evolution. But maybe not always. Anyway, as someone who's been married a little longer than you, I'm trying hard not to laugh at the idea that you think you'll never change. Or never want Mr. W to. Let's chat about this in 20 years and see what you think.

  2. I don't know. I think I'm picking up what Mel is laying down.

    I think she's talking about not changing in the essentials. I'm pretty much the same person I've been since I was a kid. Same personality, same character, same attitude. Pretty laid back. Funny. Eager to please. That hasn't changed. Sure lots of life experience has made me more patient and thoughtful (I hope), but it hasn't changed who I am at my core.

    I think if I were to evolve into someone who didn't really give a damn about others, if I became uptight and humorless, my husband, friends and family would have a right to question it.

    And everyone has a right to stay in relationships that are good for them and move away from relationships that have become toxic.

  3. Jeff - Emailed you but thought I'd post in case anyone actually reads my reply comments. I think my issue her is not with "evolving" change - it's with "devolving." When someone who I used to respect becomes someone I don't respect. Or flips back and forth between the two. I don't know how to accept that kind of change.

    Mandy - You got it exactly. Thank you for being more articulate than I. It is exactly that - changes in the fundamentals that make a person - I struggle with. I just don't know how to process it.

  4. Oh and by "issue her" on my reply to Jeff, I mean "issue here."

  5. Got your email. Now it all makes more sense. Then, for me the question would be do I try to help this person, or is it so overwhelming that I let it go. I've been in that situation as well and I've done both things. You have to know your own threshold for certain things.

    And Mandy, of course everyone has the right to get out of toxic relationships, or ones that are on that road. I didn't mean to imply otherwise.

  6. This is tough for me because although I'm never likely to change the way your ex did, I also like to think I'm growing and getting better at some things, which in turn make me a different person. Amended, maybe.

    But I'm thinking what you mean is no extremes, no major judgement where there once was none, no crazy swing in absolutes, and that I get for sure.

  7. I have no idea what you're talking about...unless people think I should know, then I TOTALLY know.l

    I can't help but think that the majority of people don't change that much unless something major happens. Especially in the case of people who "found" God.There are some things in life that happen, and as much as we'd like to stay the same, we simply can't.

    still, as someone who has changed herself, I've seen how that really impacts the friends and family when a person they love has become something different.While I know there are some people who just don't have a sense of self at all, and I think that's what your talking about, I hope you keep in mind that some of us wish we could be the old friend you first met too.

  8. Some change cannot be controlled. Like my hair colour for instance. Once a solid brunette, now grey. :( Sad that I've had to resort to dying and masking my "true self" sucks big time.

  9. I've toggled in and out of different personalities many times, but they seem to all be authentically me. It's just that the Eager to Please me might come out more with someone like my mom than the Neutral Task Oriented me that I use at the office. And the Agreeable me is currently agreeing with all of you.


Well, whatdya think?