O is for Open

You know how people say, “I like so and so, she’s so ‘real?'”

Yeah.  As I’ve stated around here, probably too often, I am sick to death of hearing that the only “reality” is the “dirty laundry” of our lives.  I think that what a lot of people want is just openness or at least some kind of assurance that we’re not only exposed to the superficial side of their life… the “Cleaned up to show” for the realtor version of their life.  They want to know that there is more to us than the facade we so often present.

I think Mr. Knightley in the Miramax version of “Emma” said it well when he spoke of Jane Fairfax.  “…but she lacks an open temper which a man wishes for in a wife.”

I think that’s what people really want when they say they want “real.”  Oh, sure.  There are those who only want the juicy gossip– the gritty little bits that make them feel superior to those around them by seeing that others have life worse.  It’s why people buy tabloids and watch afternoon drama TV where they learn that there are women who are pole dancers by night and soccer moms by day.  Even shows like Hoarders and Super Nanny give us the chance to think, “At least my life isn’t THAT massed up.”

But open… open is just sharing THAT our lives aren’t always perfect… not even a play-by-play of how.  Sometimes people just want to be reminded that they aren’t alone in their humanity.  Forgive the crass way of putting it, but people want little reminders that they’re not the only ones who have to poop.

So… next time someone makes a big deal out of being “real,” I think I’m going to see where I can be OPEN… my guess is that is what they really want anyway.  For example, I really don’t think anyone wants to see the line of dirt along the wall in my bathroom, the ring around my tub, or the overflowing trash can.  If they want to see a picture of what a tiny bathroom that serves ten people looks like, they really do want to see it clean.  However, they might want to know, on a day when it seems like they haven’t done anything but clean a house that continues to be filthy no matter what they do, that my bathroom also has dirty days.  For the record, I am guessing it has more than most people’s.  After all, Andra can scrub it within an inch of its life and ten minutes later, five hours later it can have been used a dozen times in half a dozen ways.

I’m curious.  Do you think there’s any validity to my theory?  When you say you appreciate that someone is “real” do you only want the ugly side of their life or do you want to be open about the fact that mine has both good and bad moments?

5 thoughts on “O is for Open

  1. I think sometimes when we are struggling through something it helps to hear how others managed the same or similar situation. Just telling them “Oh, I went through something like that and it all worked out for the best” isn’t helpful. Kind of like when on some online communities mothers are desperately seeking help at dealing with an issue they are facing with their child and getting told, “if you can train a dog….” Gee thanks folks that is helpful — NOT. How about giving me some step-by-step help with real life examples. I know I often tell people that having a child with special needs can be wonderful it can also be heart-breaking. When I first meet you I probably won’t share the hard parts and it may seem like I’m sugar-coating life with a child with special needs. However, once we get to know each other (or if you have a situation similar to what I’ve gone through), I’m more likely to give you the good, the bad, the ugly and, yes, even the beautiful. Sharing the “ugly” just to be real isn’t helping anyone and may even be harmful to potential relationships. As to the watching shows like “SuperNanny” and “Hoarders” — yep, those shows leave me feeling great relief that my life isn’t THAT bad. (Who am I kidding! We all know those shows take the worse clips to share so that when their “expert” is done they look really good.)

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