A hazard of being the product of millennia of progenitors who were good at fitting into the social construct is the degree to which the idea of what I’m *supposed to be* refuses to budge. This would be one of those things I keep to myself, except that I hear it from my friends as well. They confront relationship challenges (not just the romantic ones) with this idea that they are *supposed* to have a reaction or approach that isn’t natural. Who calls, how long before you respond to a text, what is okay to give for a birthday present. You don’t want to give too much, but you also don’t want to be outdone by the other guy. No one wants to show up at the birthday party with a homemade card when everyone else is boasting Hallmark. Or whatever.
But here’s the deal with success or failure in your social endeavors (to include romantic relationships): win or lose, wouldn’t you rather it be for who you are, not for some role you’re playing?
Say you go down in flames. If you crash and burn spectacularly because you were playing games or trying to be someone you aren’t, don’t you then end up living with the regret? I’d wonder what might have happened if I’d just been myself, gone with my gut, followed what I was sure of, set my fears aside, stopped listening to the voice that told me there was something I was supposed to be, or the relationship was supposed to be, and just embraced what I was, what the relationship was, and what made me happy. What if I’d just said what I feel, what I want, and let the cards fall where they might?
Come to think of it, I do live with that… I can think of three relationships that crashed and burned because of the supposed to’s: my first love in college – that never got off the ground because the difference between what it was and what it was supposed to be was insurmountable. Part of the failure of my marriage can be blamed on me not being able to move past the gap between what it was and what I thought it was supposed to be. I’ll not try to characterize the third relationship here. Suffice it to say that we all struggle with the gap between reality and “supposed to.”
Moving on. What if you succeed on the merits of being someone else… Have you thought through the part where you’re going to have to sustain that charade. Indefinitely?
I’m certainly not trying to claim that authenticity is easy. It takes a lot of bravery to say “fuck it, this is who I am, this is how I feel, this is what makes me happy, this is what I want.” It’s even harder to say all of that with complete ownership over yourself and no expectation that the world is going to bow to your will and deliver what it is that you want. Consider the alternatives, though. You can fake it and feel safe because you’re hiding behind the mask you think other people want to see, but succeed or fail, the long-term consequences are pretty difficult.
Between regret or sustaining the lie and the risk associated with just going with the best I can do with my authentic self, I think I’m aspiring to the risk. If I’m going to go down, I can live with going down on the truth. It’s easier to live with than losing something over an ephemeral “supposed to.”
The only possible caveat here is if your authentic self is a creep or an asshole. In that case, become a nice person and then be your authentic self.