It’s the real people you should be spending your time with, planning your future with, training with, talking the logistics of childbirth and all that jazz with. Yet we, myself included, struggle to find those real people. Here’s the thing, they are all around us. And here’s the killer thing. We are the reason why the real people are so hard to find. Because WE are the ones who so struggle to be real, to be vulnerable, to be transparent.
I’m up to bat first because I’m writing this and it makes sense that I be real in my post on real people, right?
I spent years of my childhood life wondering where all the real people were. To me, the world was divided into two groups, people who talked about real stuff and people who talked about who knew what else. If I didn’t understand it or couldn’t relate to what a person was talking about, I deemed that person superficial, not real. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand most people or what they were talking about so there was a pretty large real people vacuum in my life back then. Fashion, boys, current events, pop culture, theaters, teen lingo, even lunch line etiquette–these things were such a mystery to me. I spent one summer during junior high checking out library books on Russian and other languages that used the Cyrillic alphabet. I spent the other summer flipping through an algebra book trying to graph quadriatic equations so that when I started high school I wouldn’t be behind.
All this to say, I had no idea that I was the most unreal person on the planet, and this by my own definition. I couldn’t talk about anything that most anyone could relate with. I was interested in life during pioneer times, the intricacies of English grammar and the way limestone could be crushed into a chalky sand by gently rubbing two pieces of it together.
How many of us have these blinders on today? We seek something that is right next to us, but we are our own barrier to experiencing what we are looking for. When we are going through a problem, we wait for the real people in our life to sympathize and empathize with us. But if they don’t do it just so, we are mad, we criticize those people as superficial. Maybe they aren’t, but that’s not the point. The real people are seeking each other out, are investing in their gifts, investing in others, grieving with each other, leaning on each other, listening to each other. It’s cliché I know, but to get those people in our lives we have to be those people.
I still don’t relate super well in all situations with people but I’m working hard on not letting that be the thing that defines whether someone is real or not. Instead, I just come right out and tell people I’m awkward and fumble oddly with my words. So last month when I asked my friend if she needed help right after she told me she was running to the bathroom, she looked at me and laughed. “I don’t think I need help going to the bathroom!” But we both laughed because we knew how awkward I was, but I didn’t run away from that relationship and she didn’t run away from me! (Whew!)
I’m saying all of this just to remind myself and others that it’s not impossible to be the real people, but it does take effort . And we aren’t in a world of real and superficial people. We are in a world of people. The choice of whether we want to be the real people is simple up to us.