I do it too, just not as often. Not anymore.
I don’t know when but I just stopped pretending that things were good when they were not. I stopped pretending that I was lucky when I wasn’t. I stopped pretending that I care when I don’t, and that doesn’t make me much fun at parties, that’s for sure.
I have become guarded and I look for signs that I am being disingenuous.
You might be the same.
Earlier this week I struck up a conversation with a woman I have known for many years. We have worked together a very long time and what defines her in my eyes is that she always smiles. She is very pleasant woman, no matter what time of day, and no matter what she is doing. She always makes time for you and has a very cheerful disposition.
Perhaps too cheerful.
She told me candidly this week that she is tired of pretending to be happy. After all these years she has become increasingly tired of delivering her daily Oscar performance of cheerfulness. She does it on purpose. She feels she doesn’t want to burden people with her problems. She only feels at ease when she is left alone. She longs for people to ignore her. People certainly mean well, but they can’t do anything to help. They can only make things worse. They might gossip and so she desperately pushes them away. With a smile.
Last evening I took my six year old daughter to a hockey try out. I thought she would really like it, or at the very least I hoped that being around other like minded little girls would give her the confidence to want to play a whole season.
She has been a bit hesitant and I can’t really blame her. The poor girl has been dragged from one hockey rink to another, from one end of the province to another, and she has been coaxed and forced to watch her brother play, so there might be a tiny bit resentment there somewhere.
She did very well on the ice. Despite having the least amount of skill, she performed all the drills and followed all the coaches directions. She didn’t cut corners. She didn’t cheat. She didn’t get frustrated. She stayed out there, skating, weaving, passing, and shooting, the best she could.
While I was helping to untie her skates in the dressing room, the coach, who is a wonderful man, knelt down beside her and asked if would see her at the next session.
She looked at him with a smile and said “no”!
He was a bit surprised.
“But did you have a good time today?”, he asked.
“No. It was terrible”, she said.
“So, you’re not coming back?”
And that’s that. No pretending. No sugar coating it. No worrying about other people’s feelings. No overthinking the matter. No bullshit. Just a strong, uncompromising, unapologetic no.
Not a smile but a no.
Now, who would you rather be?
Who do you think you are?
I’m a bit biased I think. My heart is smitten by that little girl, and not because she is super adorable and gives me hugs every night.
It’s just not good to pretend. So stop pretending. Stop being a miserable adult and become a child again.
It’s not good to pretend, even if you’re pretending to smile. Pushing people away and hiding from them will eventually return to haunt you. You have to stop pretending to be someone who you are not. Take courage in being vulnerable or wrong. Find the strength and peace to let people reject you for who you really are.
Don’t smile when you don’t want to.
It won’t be that bad. You won’t find yourself alone. There will be plenty of people who reject you, but there will also be plenty of people will not.
Stop saying yes.
Start saying no.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Sydney Sims via unsplash.com