Our eyes can deceive us, and our minds can too, so how do we know what is real? Often my friends have accused me of being boring and practical, but at least they know what I say is the truth. In life, many things are never what they seem, but for some reason society likes to maintain certain perceived images, even when most people know they are for show. Why do people choose to deceive themselves, or do they? Perhaps the not so rosy truth or reality isn’t that pleasant but what’s wrong with things that aren’t perfect, or why is it so hard to admit when things go wrong?
Are people really what they seem, and how can you be sure someone is genuine? Luckily as I can read Souls I can see the truth, but I will admit in my greener days I was influenced by appearances too. This topic came about due to Prince Harry’s rapid engagement, which many consider to be a sham mainly because the couple had different answers when asked how long they had known one another, the father of the bride has never met Prince Harry, and in public they don’t connect or communicate as a couple about to get married ought to. If it looks likes an act and as if it’s fake, then it usually is.
Why are we shocked when we find out an aunt has come out as gay, that the members of One Direction really didn’t like one another and that’s why they split up, your next door neighbor has been having an affair with someone else down the road, or that the judges on X Factor can’t stand one another? People keep up appearances, and this is something that society accepts and even expects, but is it right even if it is normal? People fake smile each day, more so on the red carpet and at parties and events, so if we know this why do we do it?
Take for example playing happy families; the truth is behind closed doors do families really get on, love each other, never argue or fight and live happily ever after? Maybe in fairytales, but the truth is that all families have arguments, betrayals, scandals, and everyone behaves very differently behind close doors. How many people never expected someone they know to get a divorce or have an affair? It goes to show that we can’t always tell what people are truly like, or know the circumstances behind each situation, therefore we should never judge on face value I’ll take my own mother as an example; to everyone is a tiny, sweet, and helpful old lady, but behind closed doors she can be an eccentric, stubborn, and selfish person. Few see her other side as that is not how she wishes to be perceived.
This is one reason why I struggle to understand people who worship celebrities because no one knows what they are really like behind closed doors, or when the cameras have stopped rolling. They have to create a public persona and image, and one that makes them likeable for obvious commercial reasons. However, some will try to be something they are not in order to gain popularity and to promote themselves, for instance by supporting a charity or a company. If we take the royal family, we can never know how they really speak to one another or how they behave in private. Occasionally they will break from their public persona and you can have a glimpse into their true characters, but they have a public persona to maintain as that is their job. With celebrities it’s a choice as to how they promote themselves; some maintain a closed and private life and others use it for to their advantage.
Take for example Marilyn Monroe, everyone thought her life was amazing, yet behind closed doors there were affairs, divorces, and depression yet she kept up her public persona of a Hollywood star. I remember L’Wren Scott, who committed suicide when she seemed to have it all with a rock star boyfriend, her own fashion business, and an amazing lifestyle when in fact she was in debt. I was a huge fan of River Phoenix and no one thought he took drugs until he died of an overdose, while it did appear to be something that was new in his life at that time. Look at Elvis who is one of the greatest singers in modern history and how he kept up his image, but behind closed doors things weren’t so good with addiction problems, financial problems and also a divorce.
Glamorous jobs are another area where things are not what they seem. The life of a model or actress may appear to be full of glamour, but it isn’t for everyone. Often it’s an appearance and many live modest lives, and the work isn’t as glitzy as people think. The day begins before dawn, food is a snack here or there (especially on location) models change clothes in the back of a van, actors sit in cold trailers waiting for their scene, toilets are the portable ones, and then they make it all look super cool on camera. I worked on a fashion magazine in my younger days, and the job consisted of tidying the fashion cupboard, ironing, running around to offices to get samples, leaving at 5 a.m. for photo shoots, and packing and carrying boxes most of the time. When I worked as a model, you have to be up at the crack of dawn, look good all day, be nice to people even if they aren’t that nice, and yes most models don’t eat before a shoot and take supplements to keep them awake. Actors too have to live out of a suitcase and as exciting as it may sound. It’s not all 5 star hotels, sometimes it’s a motel, and if there aren’t enough rooms you have to share with a stranger. The thing is most will still give an appearance of a glamorous lifestyle, but the truth is it’s an illusion where they make ends meet for their art.
I remember when worked on a spiritual retreat as a volunteer, visitors were envious that I was able to live in a lovely place and attend workshops in exchange for volunteer work. The truth is the place was losing money (and the place was full of mice and dust), which is why they had to let go of paid staff and use volunteers who were treated as servants most of the time. Those in charge counted the hours you worked and if you owed them time they would make a note of it. On the other hand if you did more hours than required in a week because they were short staffed, it was not recognized and couldn’t be used in lieu of other hours. I put my foot down on this and made a point of leaving work on the dot even if they were busy, and if they wanted me to help out they had to let any extra hours count. It didn’t make me feel good as I like to help out anyone in need, but I could see they were abusing their power to suit them and when you allow that, you begin to lose your self-esteem, which is dangerous.
I also discovered staff were only allowed to use the bedding that was old and rejected (I ignored this, mainly because if ‘nice’ bedding was sitting there unused, what was the harm?) therefore, volunteers were considered as second class. People used to think it was idyllic living there (and we were expected to keep up that pretense to get donations), but in fact it was stressful and demeaning, hence why I saw so many people up and leave without giving notice, yet when the board and visitors came, the directors behaved very differently and we had to put on a united front for the guests. As I don’t believe in spiritual hypocrisy I eventually joined the group of people who decided to up and leave without notice too. That isn’t like me as I like to be upfront about how I feel and what I do, but I knew if I gave them notice they would eek every bit of work out of me in the hours I was awake, and abuse their power as they knew they had nothing to lose. Apparently as all the volunteers had left, a friend warned me that they had decided I was to work over Christmas full time alone without asking me. Things are rarely what they appear to be.
I like to think that we live in a world where democracy does exist and that humans are fair and respect one another in society. That would be utopic and ideal, and while many nations say this is what they believe in, their actions don’t always match those sentiments. Democracy can be dangerous at times when the masses get things wrong (such as the electorate in the USA in my opinion), and while the White House attempts to give an appearance of control and calm, the majority of society can see it is chaos. Why pretend all is fine when clearly it isn’t when staff have been fired or have resigned, with an ongoing federal investigation into collusion with a foreign power? One thing people don’t appreciate is being lied to. The Brexit negotiations in the UK are far from cordial, but the EU has at least been open in their intents, but do they really speak for all their subjects? Photos show ministers smiling and shaking hands, so perhaps things aren’t as bad as the media makes it out to be?
While most of us know or learn the difference between what is real and what is for show, why do we blindly accept this? What does it prove and is it dishonest? I used to work in marketing and I hated myself each time I had to use phrases to pacify clients or staff to keep up appearances. The thing is people know when they are being fobbed off or being lied to, but there isn’t anything they can do about it. I for one prefer clarity, honesty, and reality, but I think I am in the minority. Why? Because reality isn’t always as fun, exciting, or glamorous although it actually can be if you strip away the faux reality that many aspire to. Face it, photos on the red carpet, in magazines, and reality shows are all manufactured images and aren’t real. Companies aren’t always ethical or have their employees best interests at heart (despite what the handbook says), spiritual people aren’t automatically generous or kind, volunteers don’t always volunteer to help, politicians will lie, and only behind closed doors with no cameras can you ever truly see what someone is like. We may have to accept this as part of living in the human world, but that doesn’t mean our souls don’t know what is the truth. While we may comply to blend in, that doesn’t mean should blindly accept things that are for appearances sake as genuine or how things should be.