The Challenge of Being Real
By Jim R. Jacobs, LCSW
I was tuned into the radio yesterday morning as I headed into work.  I enjoyed listening as the DJ’s dialogued about a celebrity they described as “so very real!”  They touted her social media posts where she shares both the good and bad and admired her ability to be authentic and genuine.
While I am not sure anything posted on social media is truly authentic, I loved the interaction because it reveals something interesting about everyone I know.  Even more, it reveals something powerful about the trait of authenticity.
When I see you being brave and authentic and real, I am filled with admiration and praise you!  When I think of doing the same, I feel weak, small, and exposed. 
It seems to be a universal thing that when it comes to being real and genuine ourselves, we are not so sure it is a good idea.  What we admire in others we fear so much in our own lives.  We want the people around us to be “real,” but we struggle so much to do the same.
I imagine if we were truly able to look into people’s private lives, we would find that there is often incongruence between what we show others and what is really going on.  In our voyeuristic world, where we are all displaying so much for others to see, it can be so hard to know what is truly real.  Not to mention, who wants to post all the negative stuff anyway?
I do not see it very often, but I admire those who can courageously share what is really going on.  Some of the most commented on posts are so real.   For instance, this was in my news feed this morning:
“I don’t think will ever find someone that will make me feel special.”
Wow!  Is that raw and real?  Of course, it was followed by a sad emoticon.  I felt a surge of love for and concern for this friend.  She just gave words to something I have felt.  I have been there.  I know that feeling and it hits me just thinking about it.  I get it!
So, being authentic requires us to embrace both the light and the dark in our lives.  I am not advocating that we must post both on Instagram or Pinterest, but we can own all sides of who we are and our lives.  Truth be told, we probably should not share the darkest of the dark on social media sites.  However, we all have and need trusted friends to share these things with.  We all need people with whom we can be brave and real. 
I want to be brave!  I want to live with daring!  I want to be an authentic and true person!  It is such a positive way to live!
Jim R Jacobs, LCSW is a counselor, coach, columnist, professional speaker, and marriage educator.  Jim is the author of Driving Lessons for Life: Thoughts on Navigating Your Road to Personal Growth.  Sadly, Jim is not currently offering courses at CFU.