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November 6, 2012

Today one of my friends on Facebook re-posted a status that said “”Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.” His response was something to the effect of  the fact that a person does not need to keep a guard up to actively solicit love; rather, it is important to keep your guard down and let people see you for who you really are so that when that person who actually appreciates it comes around, you don’t miss each other.

He got me thinking about walls and authenticity, and testing, and all kinds of other things. I love his optimism and his commitment to authenticity and transparency in who he is. He is honestly one of the nicest men I have met and I think his fiancee is a lucky woman. We had an interesting interaction over this status update. I pointed out that taking down walls is not an easy thing to do.  Perhaps I am able to have somewhat of an understanding of that that person said because I too have walls. Much as I work to eliminate them, they exist. They go up when I am in a situation where I don’t feel comfortable or don’t trust the person or people around me. And when a person has been hurt in love, it is so easy to put those walls up when the next person comes around, to want the person to “prove” that s/he is genuine, sincere, and does not mean to hurt you.

Of course, who ever really WANTS to hurt someone else in love?  Or in any kind of relationship? But the question is, if you have walls up, will you be able to find love, or will it pass you by because you are not being your authentic self?

It is extremely difficult to live in an authentic way. It means showing people who you really are, which opens you up for all kinds of unkindness. So people learn to live in another way. I recently spoke with someone who said that all through high school and into college, he “tried on different personalities”.  I found his statement to be somewhat sad, but understandable. In high school is when we really are finding ourselves in many ways, and trying to gain some independence. To a certain extent, people do try on different things, to see how they feel, how they fit. But different personalities? Are our personalities not already formed by that time, or is it so easy for some people to change them?

His words have echoed with me each time I have interacted with him. I wonder which persona he puts on when he interacts with me, and who the real person is, and whether I will ever see that person. Does he even know who he really is, or has he tried on so many personalities that he can exchange them at will? Why would he want to do so?

That is something that worries me – the changeability that some people seem to have regarding who they are. Whether it is someone who changes herself or himself to please her or his partner, a person who changes who s/he is to make money, or politicians who change with whatever public opinion says, I wonder about what that says about us. Is it so easy to change who we are, and is this not another way of putting up walls? Do we take on so many different personas in our lives that we lose who we are at the heart of us? How does a person not feel the impact of not being true to herself or himself?

I had another interesting conversation relating to this with someone else last week. She mentioned how we are different people in different situations – at work, at home, with friends, etc. I disagreed. I said some people feel the need to be, but others strive to be the same person all of the time. To me, it gets difficult to try to be one person in one situation and another person in another situation. Although I have subtle changes in how I interact with people, I am still me; I just don’t show all of me to everyone. I put up walls, as I said earlier, depending on any number of things. I try to be open but when I find out that people are judging me, gossiping about me, and being unkind, the walls go up. If a person is being unkind to others, they go up then too, because someone who is unkind to others will be unkind to you (same with gossip, as I mentioned in an earlier post).

At the end, what is the right answer? In an ideal world, the walls we build to protect ourselves are not necessary because people will recognize us for the greatness in us, and appreciate it. In the real world, that does not happen, and it seems that it is so hard for others to recognize the good in us that sometimes, the walls are necessary.

As far as love, well, I can’t claim to have the answer to that, or to anything related to relationships. All I can do is to try each day to be honest and authentic, and to work to take down my walls, brick by brick.


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