HUNT: When keeping it real goes wrong

Georgie Hunt

There is a line from Ryan Adams’ song, “Cry on Demand,” that goes, “Real. Real like a plastic bouquet.” Sometimes people are like that.

Too many people walk around holding bouquets of plastic flowers over their faces that are made to look real but cannot fool anyone who pays enough attention with at least one or two of their senses. Get close enough, and it is easy to recognize the deception. Theirs is not the offensively sweet aroma of gardenias or the scent of elegance and romance like peonies on a summer evening. Rather it is stale and suffocating, like the odor of a craft store that immediately yanks you into its world of artifice.

People are afraid of what is real because they think it is too fragile, too likely to wither or too prone to have its head snipped off by the deceitful. Falsity is a defense mechanism, but walking around holding a bunch of plastic green sprigs with cloth leaves and petals dyed shades of pink is no way to live in a world that is very much real and alive.

People subconsciously act fake because what is fake has become so prevalent that it can be confused with what is real. For example, who can identify when exactly the phony lisp phenomenon began? When did it become cute or endearing to purposely speak as if you have a speech impediment? Maybe you have a friend who went off to school and came back home for Christmas break with a different voice than the one with which she spoke for the previous 10 or so years you knew her. Does she hear herself when she talks? Does she think she sounds as though she failed at phonics? She probably does not think she speaks differently because she speaks the way many of her peers speak. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that rampancy does not define what is real and true. Without a few refreshing exceptions, people must ponder the mystery of what an adolescent girl’s voice truly sounds like when washed of its thick, saccharine, syrupy glaze.

Not everyone is fake. You are fortunate if you are acquainted with as much authenticity as would fill a crystal vase, but all you need to know is one real person. One real flower is enough to cheer an entire room, and one true, genuine person is enough to enliven a lifetime. There is hardly any experience more thrilling and satisfying than talking to someone who is who he or she is. You can hear it in a voice. You can see it in the eyes, for have you ever heard the English proverb, “The eyes are the windows of the soul”?

Being real requires knowing yourself. Not everyone can choose to be real immediately because people need time to come to their own understanding, but anyone can make the decision to become real. Today is a time of instant gratification. Many people do not take the necessary time to think about who they are. They want to be someone right now, regardless of who or why. That is fine in the beginning, but the problem is, people get stuck in a pattern of pretending and end up spending their entire lives stepping on the heels of the crowd, too busy imitating what everyone else is doing to pay attention to where they are going.

People, like flowers – real flowers – need time to grow, and if taken care of, they inevitably blossom, glorious and alive. Getting real is worth the time it takes to learn about yourself through contemplation and experience. College is the time to grow. Now is the time to get real.

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Georgie Hunt is a sophomore English major from Pomfret, Conn. She can be reached at [email protected]