in my other life…

John O’Farrell is a pretty funny writer, but then he cut his teeth on spitting image – one of the best satirical shows that’s ever graced our screens. Although part of its appeal was probably some of the real characters around at the time – Maggie et al. The first book I read of his – ‘This is your life’ is the hilarious story of a thirtysomething pretending to be the next big thing in stand-up comedy. I raided my friend’s library for another of his books – ‘the best a man can get’ around exam time. It’s the fascinating story of a guy living a double life. With a wife and two kids in one house, then ‘working away’ in a bachelor pad with 3 other guys. He has the best of both worlds (his wife and mother of two small children may disagree…) it seems, until he invariably gets found out. Maybe the reason its so incisively funny is because we can all identify. We all have our stories of living double lives until we got found out. Mine was at school. One person to my friends, another to my family and church. Why do we feel the need to pretend, to try to be someone we are not to others? So often we feel we have to impress people to get them to like us, we’re afraid that if they saw the ‘real me’ they wouldn’t like us anymore. But we simply can’t keep up performance related friendships. People who constantly try to impress by telling you how great they are and what they are doing, but aren’t interested in you, who don’t listen aren’t people I want to spend a lot of time with. Which reminds me that often I am one of those people, insecure in my own identity. We all love authenticity, people who don’t care what others think but know who they are. Maybe by trying not to pretend, not to be different people that can help release others from the captivity of their alter egos before it all comes crashing down in flames…

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2 thoughts on “in my other life…”

  1. Its hard to be the real cos of the fear of rejection. Its easier to be something other than yourself and accepted.
    If you knew the real me you wouldn’t like me, and if you said you did it would be because its the Christian thing to do, but you cant like someone you dislike. which makes one very insecure amongst Christians since youre not sure if you are accepted or is it just cos its the Christian thing to do. You cant like every one -personalities clash thats life!

  2. Oh, so many thoughts… To start bluntly, what’s the point in having someone like us if it’s not the real us they like – especially when you’re not sure if they’re being genuine in their liking or just saying it because it’s the Christian thing to do? If they’re just pretending to like the fake you, they might actually like the real you! And if it is just life that personalities clash and we can’t like everyone, why can’t we cope with it – take it in life’s stride – when other people don’t like us? Then, especially in terms of a Christian community, isn’t there a difference between liking and accepting? Accepting others surely means taking them for who they are, as they are, giving them the freedom to be authentic (knowing that you have that freedom too)… Liking them is more about personally enjoying, agreeing with or being satisfied by what you find in that freedom. On top of that, appreciating is different to liking, and loving someone is different again. Aware as I am that Christian communities are by no means perfect places of acceptance, appreciation and love, I still find myself asking at least hypothetically if these don’t outweigh dislike?

    To ground this in my own experience, I know I rarely cope well with people not liking me. Usually it’s hardest to take when the person who doesn’t like me is someone I hold in high esteem or affection for whatever reason. I’ve recently been reflecting on a bizarre and amusing expression of my own misplaced security and inappropriately satisfied desire for acceptance: When I moved to Northern Ireland from England I was pretty aware of sticking out like a sore thumb, particularly in terms of my accent. So, partly because I love it and partly because I want to ‘belong’ here or be considered ‘one of us’ in NI, I have disowned some of my Englishness and ‘claimed’ some sort of Northern Irish identity for myself and (here’s the daft bit) now find myself very anxious to be perceived as more Northern Irish than English when I return to the land I grew up in. I know that I need to remember more clearly and live more fully in the truth that my identity and security are found in being the beloved, totally accepted, daughter of my heavenly Father… when it is His opinion or view of me that matters above all others’, and when I think about who He is, awe and joy begins to flow.

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