Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Public Face and Character

I am always amazed by people.

Lately, I have done blog posts and worked on other pieces about young people. Young people and their attitudes, young people trying to be "grown" people...

Today, though, I have to get on the grown folks.

People get full of themselves. They get comfortable with what God has blessed them with and act everyday as though it can't all be taken away from them. Go into any public place - store, office, church - and you can watch people being, well - full of what they think they are. They project an image of what they think other people want to see (or will be impressed by) instead of being sincere and real and useful.

As an example of people putting on a false face: I was sitting in the waiting area of a doctor's office the other day and I noticed the way the three ladies at the reception desk spoke to patients checking in. They all had this fake, chirpy way of speaking. One of the ladies would do a cheer of "Yay!" whenever a patient's buzzer sounded to let them know they could go back to the doctor. "Yay!" or "Tada!" It was a little bit irritating because the way she was acting did not seem to fit her persona. I mean, I just didn't picture her at home, talking to her family that way. "Dinner's ready. Yay!"... I imagine if she could have watched herself later on camera, she'd have wondered: "What the heck was my problem?" or "Do I really act like that?" (I don't think I'd want to see myself on hidden cam a lot of times, though it might be useful to keep me in check!)

The more I watched these women, the more I realized they were doing something that we all do when we are the public face of a business. We put away our "real" selves and go into character. Public face/Private face. Public me/Private me. Like teachers tell children: "Use your 'indoor' voice."

(Funny sidenote: My siblings and I used to find it hilarious that my mother could be yelling at one of us like a banshee but stop to answer the phone in the most polite voice ever. She'd go from drill sergeant and ready to kick butt to "hel-lo?" in two point three seconds...)

Why do we have separate personas and faces to present in one situation versus another? Shouldn't who we are be who we are all the time? Why do we act the way we do for one set of eyes and act differently for another set? (Actually, I get it that we are supposed to be a little less "relaxed" in public than at home. This is why we sensible folks don't walk around the grocery store in hair rollers and bath slippers... Being publicly decent is not what I'm talking about here, and I am glad that some of us don't show the "real" us. I have some family members who are "real" all the time, and I am terrified to go into the wrong public place with them. Usually when people boast that they are "keeping it real," they mean they are being ignorant. I won't even get into that right now. )

I guess what I am really talking about is how we lose honesty in our basic behavior when we are in certain situations. For instance, the other day, when texting someone I haven't seen in a long while, they signed off by calling me "kiddo." Here's the thing: I am older than this person - not by a lot, but we are pretty much neck-and-neck in the "grown" department. I think that their choice of wording has to do with their own sense of importance. Like patting me on my pitiful little head and saying, "Look at me, I'm all wise and such, kiddo." I had to laugh a little because that kind of behavior - which is meant to make a person look wiser and more mature - shines light on a person's mindset and true character.

Anyway, like I said, I am always amazed by people. I would love for someone who is really rich and powerful to show go undercover as a "regular" person somewhere in a workplace and just see how they are treated. Then, some months down the road, expose who they really are. Be an interesting study to contrast how people treated them before and after, wouldn't it?

I will leave you with this: always treat people, truly, the way you would want to be treated. No matter how comfortable you are in life right now, things have a funny way of going lopsided in a heartbeat. You say you have a reason for treating someone a certain way? They are silly or they wronged you at some point in the past and now you are gonna "show them?" Okay. Maybe down the road, your kids or some other loved one is going to be on the receiving end of that "show me" attitude. Think about it people. The way you treat someone could be the way you get treated.


P.S.: On a personal note, a friend and I are in the germination stages of working out an exciting creative venture. I will keep you posted as things go along. In the meantime, keep prayers going up for me. God is good all the time & He put us here to be ambassadors of His goodness, mercy and love!