It’s not uncommon to hear someone being derogatorily called a phony or a fake, but more often than not such labels seem to only be reserved for people whose perspective of being genuine differs from ours. Even if you do come across people who constantly go out of their way to present a modified and embellished image of themselves, you should refrain from instantly dismissing them as a construct of their fancies as opposed to one made up of honest beliefs, principles and convictions. Sadly, the world we have haphazardly forged for ourselves insists on disassociation from oneself from the earliest days of our sojourn in it; from forcing you to drown out the majority of instincts you were born with to imposing a myriad of cultural, sociological or ethical norms, that you will either adhere to or be dubbed an outcast and treated as one. When you combine this with the fact that a lot of what is to become our personality is formed while we are still too young to actually have a deeper understanding of the consequences of our choices and decisions, blaming someone for their desire to present themselves in a more favorable light than is perhaps warranted can be somewhat callous.
The list of documented and, if not justifiable than at least understandable, ways in which we delude ourselves might seem demoralizing to those wishing to attain absolute honesty with oneself and the world surrounding them, but luckily there are also lists which help you do just that by pointing out traits common to genuine people. Here’s one of them. Being genuine doesn’t mean being completely oblivious to how your surroundings react to you, it simply means not letting those reactions define everything you are or do. While you might think that the best way to only listen to yourself is to tune out everyone else, this is a dangerous path to take. Even the most sincere and realistic person is subject to self-deception. From Dunning–Kruger effect to a host of other biases and inherent or acquired reasoning fallacies, being objective about yourself is not a simple matter of choice. In order to create a complete portrait of yourself, you need to consider what you look like from the third perspective. Needless to say, you won’t assign the same weight to everyone’s opinion, nor will you base your appreciation of their input or advice just on how much what they saying corresponds to what you are already thinking or feeling. In general, you should listen to people whose honesty and integrity you respect, especially if they are known for not pulling any punches. In this case, harsh truths may just be the most useful kind. As deluded or ambitious as we may get when thinking about ourselves, there are not too many people out there who think that they are or that they should be absolutely perfect in each and every aspect of their existence. If you have an iota of realism in you, you’ll acknowledge your imperfections, and if you truly are genuine, you won’t focus more energy on hiding them than you will on trying to polish them out of your personality. Being proud of your accomplishments or even some of your character traits is by no means a bad thing. As a matter of fact, recognizing your qualities is just as important as being aware of your imperfections. However, serving as your own marketing agency is not something that people who are truly confident will do. Letting your actions speak for you is always preferable to you constantly speaking about your actions. This is not to say that you should ever come close to false modesty, as that is just another form of being disingenuous. Being genuine doesn’t have to mean that you are always right or that all of your opinions are perfect. If the strength of your convictions forces you to fight for them, as unpopular as they may be, you might accumulate a host of other negative labels, but no one will be able to call you a phony in good conscience. Naturally, you don’t need to approach this dogmatically. You might, for instance, believe that cats are a superfluous life form and that they only exist to annoy people and destroy cushions, but you don’t exactly need to offer this piece of insight to your friend whose cat has just died. Remember, there’s being genuine and there’s being a genuine piece of work. Genuine people make genuine promises.
They won’t accept an obligation just to appease someone or to seem nicer than they are. Again, this is to be taken with a grain of salt, as there is always the possibility that circumstances won’t allow for the desired resolution, even though the promise might have been made in good faith and with realistic expectations and appreciation of the situation. Even long before social networks and a general increase in connectivity enabled us to expose every segment of our life to a worldwide audience, people found it all too easy and appealing to obfuscate some parts of their personality and accentuate other. Even if you have a dislike for that kind of behavior, condemning it without considering their reasons for doing so might be rash. Finding your true self isn’t easy for anyone, sticking to who you think you are can be infinitely more difficult. But ultimately, most of us realize that satisfying everyone’s standards is not only unnecessary, it is quite impossible.
The sooner you realize that the only one who you really need to impress is yourself, the sooner will you develop into a person that actually has something to offer to others.
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