You want to know the key to my heart? It’s the thing that makes me fall in love with people – men and women, young and old. It’s the difference between me texting back quickly and me pretending my phone broke. It’s the quality that earns my instant respect. It’s what prompts my support; when it is lacking, it prompts my most intense side eye.
Sincerity. Genuineness. Authenticity. Realness.
I like real people. That’s just how it goes. I may not be best friends with them, like their lashes, or support their choice in lace front wigs, but real people have a special place in my heart. In a time when what’s cool so often conflicts with what’s real, it’s hard to find people who chose the latter. And so, I love them. For choosing to value themselves more than the things that don’t matter. For choosing what’s right instead of what’s hot. It’s the people who have spent enough time just sitting with themselves, coming into an understanding of who they are and confidently living within a set of principles or with a set of personality quirks that are unique to them whether popular or not. It’s the people who just want to be themselves even if they get slack for it. That’s who I love.
Would you like to increase the chances that I will fall in love with you? Would you like to improve your real level? Would you like insight on how the real people developed their realness? I have tips. Keep reading.
- Say the thing that needs to be said.
Ok so you know when you’re in a meeting or on the phone with your bestie or in your boss’s office and someone says something that you disagree with? Not a slight difference in opinion like the fact that balsamic vinaigrette is better than ranch as a dressing for salad (because that’s actually true), but something you disagree with because it is actually the dumbest thing you’ve heard in your life and clashes with your fundamental or foundational set of beliefs? You know what I’m talking about? Maybe you’re in the meeting and someone says something like “yeah, I think our company should sell cigarettes to 12 year olds” or you’re on the phone with your bestie and she says something like “yeah girl, I think I’m going to give my ex another chance” or you’re in the boss’s office and she says something like “we’re not hiring another Asian person because I don’t like their food.” And there you are thinking “is this person really saying this horrible thing right now?” You immediately scrunch your face but then you un-scrunch it real fast because you don’t want to offend. These times are especially hard when the person who said the dumb thing is someone you love or someone who is in a position of authority over you or when everyone else in the room wholeheartedly agrees with the dumb thing. The thing is, you have to say something anyway! Now, I would suggest that you use discretion. You don’t always have to speak up, but in instances when the dumb thing conflicts with you in a way that you know you’ll be thinking about for the rest of the week, say something! The real in you has to open your mouth. The real in you should at least go on record as the one person who disagreed with the dumb thing. Say it.
- Don’t confuse being real with being rude.
You know these people right? The ones who say unnecessarily hurtful things in the name of “keeping it 100”. It’s important to speak up, to right wrongs, to defend the weak, to voice opinions and add perspective . . . all that stuff. It’s not important to do it at the risk of damaging relationships or damaging your image. Being rude clouds things. It’s hard to have an appreciation for your realness when your mouth is so nasty. Clean your mouth so I can love your realness. This takes a bit of restraint, which can be hard but is usually worth it.
- Be consistent.
When I see you at Walmart on a Tuesday night, I would love to get the same person I got at church on Sunday, and then it would be fantastic for you to be the same person when I see you at Applebee’s on Saturday. I can barley handle people who are saints, nerds, and video vixens all within the span of a day. I mean I know that we all code switch. All of us are a little more professional at work, a little more unrefined at home, or a little more sweet when our boyfriend’s mother (what boyfriend?) is around, but the real in you should keep all of that pretty consistent. You can’t exactly be Lil’ Kim and Tasha Cobbs can you? I suppose you could have moments when the Lil’ Kim in you suppresses the Tasha Cobbs in you and vice versa. I think you have to ultimately choose who to be and decide to align your lifestyle with that choice. Right? Anything else comes off as not real, not authentic, not genuine, and not sincere.
These are all the tips I have for now. There may be more to say on this (ex: admit mistakes, accept flaws, love others, etc), but I think these three things will get you started. I wish you well on your journey to realness. I’m right there with you, trying to be my most authentic self. It’s levels to this ish though, and we’re all at different points. It’s not always clear how to merge our beliefs with our words, decisions, and actions, but it’s worth trying.