pretenses & pretentious

i dont want to base my life on the books Ive read the works of art Ive gawked at- or opinions I think I should be agreeing with. I want to be known as someone who created her own little corner of the world and adorned it with sparkles, and flowers, and pretty fabrics that all match. I want to stand out in a crowd, be the one that doesnt quite fit, but I want to do it on my own; in my own way and on my own terms, propelled by my own thinking, not the thoughts someone else has laid before me. I want to change the world for the better, even if its just in my little crook of the earth. And while Im at it, I want people to like me for who I am- not what I want them to think I am.

Do you like that I am smart & caring; funny & like to laugh; athletic & healthy; love giving gifts & making people smile; have a penchant for a good cup of coffee & conversation that makes it taste all the better; love how a new book feels in my fingers & the smell of fresh cut grass on a summer afternoon?


Would none of those things about me matter if I had only read the same reading list as you, or joined the same sorority, or drove the same car you do? Would they be negated if I ran the same race as you, liked the same sports as you, had the same shirt as you? Would they all become invisible if I just did what you say, or nodded in agreement, or never walked away?

The all-too-overused quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” Take a moment and visualize a list of, oh, say, five of your friends. Now, how do you love them? What are the qualities about them you really enjoy? What made you initially become their friend? And what is it about them, which makes you want to continue to stoke the fires of the relationship? When you are done, take another moment, and reflect on the qualities you have stripped from your group of friends.

The definition of what a friend is has been everlastingly warped with the innovation of social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and the like, and I think we all need to get to the bottom of who we are and why our friends are our friends. The Websters definition of friend is one attached to another by affection or esteem As you look through your friends list on your social networking site; you are likely to find more than one person who doesnt quite marry up with the definition of a friend. Im not saying you have to un-friend these people; its just something to reflect on.

But anywho, back to my original point- I have realized recently how many friends I have who are walking, talking, definitions of pretentious. For those of you who might have to try to find a dictionary to figure out what Im talking about, Ill make it easy for you. Pretentious is characterized by assumption of dignity; making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious. In other words, you are trying to be something you are not, and are trying so hard to portray that image that you come across as a fraud.

I wonder why. What about who you are on the inside is so wildly boring, or pathetic, or crazy that you feel you need to change who are you- are you really that naïve an insecure that you think you will have no friends if people know the real you?

When I was in high school for a total of about a week I was so nervous I wouldnt fit in or be considered one of the cool kids that I couldnt be myself; not even for a second. I quickly learned what a slippery slope that would lead me down and went right back to being me. I assumed that eventually Id find someone who liked me for who I was. Turns out; I was right. I went on being me, growing and changing and beginning to watch people become stunted in the quest for coolness. What a shame. A waste. A travesty. Gross. I learned pretty quickly it was ok to have differing opinions; especially those that differed from the stunted masses I was forced to spend school days with. Granted, It is certainly not always easy being the outspoken **loudmouth {insert expletive here}** but I refused to not have my voice heard, no matter how many people would disagree, or not like me.

I am lucky enough to have learned that lesson early on. Some people I know are still living through the lies of what they want to be seen as; always spitting forth the plethora of garbage they just read about, researched, and are now rehashing for you in grossly misunderstood, or warped manner. Lucky me. Lucky you. And all the while they are looking for their Atta boy or some other form of acknowledgement from you- and the drivel will continue to spill out. I find it incredibly saddening people go through their lives doing all the right things because a book they read once said to do such and such the outcome will be such and such or this article once said, blah, blah, blah. How sad it they cant be themselves, they have no inner drive to think on their own, or fulfill a dream for fear someone may point and laugh, or worse, disagree. Oh the travesty!

Everyone deserves a few good friends to surround them in their journey through life- friends who you can be your true self with; share your opinions with, no matter how wild they may sound in your head. A friend you can laugh with, so hard you cant help but snort; and not feel self-conscious about it. Explain to them why you secretly love the new fashion-must-have they acutely despise. One who knows the conversation isnt always deep; and there isnt always and underlying theme (at least not on purpose); and there certainly isnt always a life-altering climax to every event. Sometimes you just want to share what you had for breakfast, your latest discovery at the grocery store, or your childs (OMG, shes so perfect) milestone moment.

You dont have to be something you arent- and in dispensing that free piece of worldly advice- I offer you a lifetime guarantee: if you allow yourself to be who you really are deep down inside, people will still like you; they just might not be the ones you expected!

A social experiment, if you will think about something you are (deep down) super-passionate about; something that you arent sure how your friends will react to; and post it as your status on Facebook. Chances are, it will surprise you how people respond- and it may be just what you need to encourage you to be yourself a little more. See where the results lead you. Take your life by the hand, explain it may be a bumpy ride and that you arent really sure how things will turn out; and take off running. Let yourself be guided to your corner of the world that fits just right. Meditate on what life holds and who your true friends (are??) should be.