I have frequently made mention of the fact that I find being nice extremely exhausting. My explanation for this is that, well, basically, I am not a nice person to start with. I happily acknowledge the fact that I am evil, so niceness is a big leap for me,
Recently I read a slightly different explanation for this, written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her reflection Gift from the Sea. Morrow Lindbergh’s “most exhausting thing in life…is being insincere” and “That is why so much of social life is exhausting, one is wearing a mask.”
I was a little taken aback at being labelled insincere, as I have always considered myself an extremely sincere person. However, the more I thought about Morrow Lindbergh’s statement, the more I realised it might be true.
My one and only New Year’s resolution had been to lead an authentic life – to be authentic in all things. I thought I was doing pretty well, I considered that I was really gaining ground on achieving real authenticity in my thoughts, actions and words. However, that word “insincere” kept nagging at me like a dog with a bone.
Looking for any excuse to relieve myself of the label of insincerity I even turned to the use of a dictionary in the hope that I misinterpreted the word, but there it was: the quality of not being open or truthful; deceitful or hypocritical.
I had to admit it. I was guilty of insincerity. All those times I took myself to the edge of physical exhaustion cleaning my house before guests arrived, so that I appeared to be the ultimate domestic goddess. All those times, I dressed in a carefully chosen way to present a certain image – one look for friends, one look for the workplace, seldom did I dress for “me”. The times I chose to tell, well not lies, but not all the details, so that my life might look more, fortunate.
It was staring me in the face. I have perfected the quality of not being open, or truthful. I am deceitful and hypocritical. How could I claim any authenticity when not capable of real truthfulness? I had some comfort in the knowledge that in recent times I have only invited people, with whom I can be completely honest into my life, but old habits die hard, and I realised that friends of long standing were often the victims of my worst examples of a lack of total honesty.
I have set myself a new task – to shed my mask of hypocrisy. My first test will be in a couple weeks time, when I am meeting with 6 of my girlfriends from high school for lunch. Most of them I have known since the age of 13, but one of them has been my friend since kindergarten, so the challenge will be to be truthfully there, in total openness with attention to detail.
Strange as it may seem, I suspect despite the effort sincerity is going to take, I may well be less exhausted than from being “nice”.