Be Genuine! Be yourself no matter if you are a confident socialite or a computer nerd. Not only will you be a happier person, people will find it easier to relate to you. You are important and worthwhile just the way you are, so just be yourself.
I learned to be genuine in my 40’s. I never understood why so many people did not like me, but now I know it’s because they couldn’t tell who I was. How could they when I didn’t know myself? It took so long because as I grew up, I was never allowed to find out. Growing up as the fifth of 8 kids to an alcoholic Father and a narcissist Mother, I only knew who I wasn’t. I believed I was useless, I couldn’t do anything right, my hair was miserable, I was an ugly little pig who was only good for kicking around, literally. I tried so hard to be worthy, to be good enough for my parents to love, they died before I could resolve that in my head.
Part of why I didn’t know who I was is because I was not allowed to make simple everyday decisions, even about what clothing I wore. I rarely had new clothes and when I did, my Mother bought things for me when I wasn’t with her. My Mother had abysmal fashion sense so the clothes I had to wear made me a laughingstock at school, tops did not match, and pants were ugly, ill fitting and had no style.
One day she bought me a pantsuit with white pants. I hated those white pants and I told her, but she forced me to wear them to a party at some friends’ house. I went into the bathroom and purposely ripped a hole in the white pants so I didn’t have to wear them. I put on some jeans I had sneaked in. I could tell how angry my Mother was by her pursed lips and pointed stare. That night at home, she screamed at me about the pants and how much money they had cost and how they were her pants, not mine. I had some money from babysitting so I tossed it at her and told her I owned those pants now and I would never wear them, then I went upstairs, opened the bathroom medicine cabinet and proceeded to swallow every single pill I found in it. When I realized what I’d done I told my Mother. She called the doctor who told her to make me throw up. Most parents have ipecac at home for this, but not my Mom, she made me drink dish soap, forced me to until I threw up, then she took me to the hospital where I stayed for three days. I didn’t want to go home, but they wouldn’t let me stay.
After that incident, I pretended to be other people, like my best friend Cindy. Cindy lived around the corner from me and I used to see her walking her beautiful Alaskan Malamute dogs. I admired her easy confident mannerisms and the way she stood up for herself. When anyone said anything negative to, or about her she would look them right in the eye and tell them exactly how, and why, they were wrong. I could never do that, so I tried to act like Cindy, but mostly I hid from my family at her house as much as possible. She was like a second sister to me. I had a silly attraction to her oldest brother Jesse. Jesse was one of those golden boys every girl fawns over, and he knew it, but it was the other brother Clarence whom I really fell for. Clarence was quiet like me, and every bit as handsome. The shy way he tried to hide his teenaged acne endeared him to me. We would stare at each other across the room and silently, we cared about each other. We only talked about our feelings twice and nothing ever came of it. I rarely talk with Cindy these days. We grew apart as people do, but she was important to me. In many ways, she saved my life, and I will always call her friend. Clarence got married and I think he still lives in Milwaukee; I will always call him friend too.
I pretended to be other people I admired as well. My friend, Sandy whom I luckily befriended the first day of High School was one of them. Sandy protected underdogs, including me, from the mean kids. Two others I pretended to be were Erica Kane from “All My Children”, and Marcia Brady from the “Brady Bunch”. Erica Kane was tough as nails and always got what she wanted, and Marcia Brady was so pretty and popular. I wanted to be like them, someone other people liked and respected and wanted to around. They portrayed strength and confidence I didn’t have. When they talked, people listened. When I pretended to be like them, I felt stronger and better, but that deception was only skin deep, I was a mental wreck inside and it didn’t take much for my true colors to show through. I was exhausted and I hated myself so much I wished I were dead.
I thought if I could be like Cindy, or Sandy, nobody could really hurt me. I didn’t understand that by trying to be someone else, I was trying, in vain, to get my parents, or some boy, or anyone, to love me. It never happened and finally, I gave up trying, then suddenly, as if by magic, other people started to like me. I was shocked and surprised by this and it took me awhile to trust it. Not everybody liked me of course, but enough of them for me to know that when I am being my true genuine self, people notice and I don’t even have to try, it just happens.
I love who I am now. I am strong and mostly confident, far from perfect, but I stand up for myself and others, I am kind and helpful. I strive to keep good relationships with those I love. I am a great writer and a fun person to be silly with. I have the most fun throwing pillows and marshmallows with my grand-kids. I am a good friend and a fighter against evil and injustice. I could stand to lose some weight, but I am pretty and I love to laugh. I can honestly say I love myself and that’s what we should all strive for. Being genuine means loving yourself for everything you are and all that you are not.
We are not meant to be perfect and it is a waste of time and energy, especially if you are trying to be perfect for someone else. We waste so much time trying please others. If someone else can’t love you for exactly who you are, let them go. I was not allowed to be myself as a child so it took me a very long time to discover who I am as an adult. I tried to be what I thought my parents wanted me to be, the trouble was they didn’t want a child named Carol, they wanted a robotic maid and a silent one at that. I was always quiet because speaking up as a child meant being bullied and bruised both inside and out. Now, because I gave up trying to be someone else, I can be my own genuine self and my own opinion of me is all that matters. Now instead of bruises, I have laugh lines, and lots of other people like me, but if they don’t, it doesn’t bother me. Their opinion of me is none of my business.