If you’ve at all been keeping up-to-date with my recent ramblings, the themes have had much to do with sincerity, and all that we as humans do, to shroud our authentic, inner weirdos with a contrived, socially revered “self,” hoping to cover up our underlying blemishes with a pretty portrait.
Though, I’ve yet to deal with the question all-important:
What does it mean to be sincere? And how does one know if one is just being his or her self?
It’s a pretty tough question to deal with, I reckon. And the reason for this is because I don’t know of any answer I find to present satisfactorily.
It goes without saying that, in some circumstances, identifying insincerity is an easy mission. For instance, if one weekend you’ve found yourself at your local mall, and the shop assistant is paying you extra attention, maybe even flirting with you, they’re, in all likeliness, doing it because they want to sell you something, and not because they love the scent of your hair. Don’t be too disappointed when they tell you that they are in a relationship when you ask for his or her number.
However, it goes without saying that this is not always the case.
I worked in retail for a rather long while, and I can safely say that, if I was being extra nice to someone, or paying them more attention than normal, it rarely had to do with my wanting to make a sale. First off, in one of my many sales-position, I was friends with my manager, so I wasn’t at all worried about losing my job; and we didn’t work on commission, so I didn’t really care about selling another suit. Also, I like talking to people, and I quite like fashion – or rather, making things look “pretty” – so I’d often just chat to someone for the sake of chatting, even if I knew they weren’t going to buy anything, and though I didn’t take my job seriously, I did enjoy splicing outfits together and leaving my customers happy and satisfied; setting aside all incognito sexual innuendos, of course. It suffices to say that, as far as being a bullshitty salesperson goes, I’d not make the list.
So here’s one situation where sincerity can be shrouded by a pre-conception: the preconception being that sales people really want to rob you for all your worth.
Here are a few more questions to ponder:
- If someone asks me how I’m doing, and I answer “good,” despite that, in reality, I feel fucking terrible, am I being insincere? Or, in other words, can insincerity be measured by passivity? Or must you be proactively insincere?
- If someone asks me whether I like my job, and I answer by saying, “oh, it’s okay. It has its ups and downs.” Am I being insincere because I’ve not revealed that I loathe my job because of my manager, but love it because the work is enthralling? Or, to add another layer, what about this: if the thought “I fucking hate my manager,” crosses my mind, but I do not reveal it, am I being insincere? Alternatively, although I do, in reality, hate my manager, though this thought does not cross my mind upon questioning, and so I make no mention of it, am I still being insincere? Is this measure based on a moment-to-moment happening?
- If a man or woman has had extensive plastic surgery for only cosmetic reasons, are they inauthentic people? What if their open about any disorders, pains or insecurities that may have fuelled these self-enhancements?
- If I’m selling a suit and tell the customer that it’s made in Italy, believing this to be so, though knowing that the company is a little dodgy in their marketing, am I being insincere if I don’t divulge this information?
- If I’ve planted a smile on my face so to mask my brooding disdain for something in my world, all for the benefit of those around me, is that insincere? What about if I sincerely don’t want to cause anyone to worry about me or to evoke their concern? What about then?
Is insincerity a measure of how true I am to myself, or how true I am to another? Is there a difference? Who measures this and how is it to be measured?
I’m not really sure how sincerity, or the ego, or this false self that I speak so frequently of, is to be measured. In fact, I have no fucking idea what sincerity means; all that I have are loosely strung, lucid concepts.
While it’s easy to measure sincerity on a vague and surface level – like, if someone “cheats” on their partner and doesn’t tell them – when you get down to the nitty gritty of what it really means to live an inauthentic life, I’m not so sure that there is a general answer we can rely on.
If I were, however, to try and answer this tricky little question, I’d assert that authenticity can only be measured internally. And, although this measure leaves room for severe self-delusion, it’s all that we have.
Ultimately then, what the fuck does it mean to “just be yourself?”
Who are we other than our selves?
If you’re simply being, you are yourself? And thus just being you?
Humans-are-multi-faceted-organisms. Which of these facets, if any, if not all, is the real one?