Real Isn’t Always Pretty

I’ve had the chance to meet people from all different walks of life. Famous. Normal. Normal in undeniably hard circumstances where they’ve been thrust into the limelight. And normal people who do extraordinary things in the moment.

Somewhere, in a timeline that started when I was about five years old and runs until about now, society changed.

What I found out: we get bored with real.

We don’t always see real as pretty. It’s the girl in class with the straight hair, straight teeth, nice smile, and brown eyes. Now, if I’m describing you don’t think this is a knock. Because it’s not. The fact is the girl with the straight hair, brown eyes, straight teeth has amazing potential inside her. But how that plays out over her lifetime might not be fantastical or easily Instagramable. It takes those boring, mundane days to develop our purpose. It takes those moments to discover who you truly are.

On a Tuesday afternoon in Springfield, Illinois in 2005  you would never know I was about to meet the man who would become President of the United States.  Only three years before he was inaugurated on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Obama

Barack Obama was simply a freshman U.S. Senator from Chicago meeting me at an E-85 gas pump in the state capital to talk about subsidies for farmers who produced corn to make the newer fuel at the time. I was the only reporter there, no other station had shown up.  This press conference looked a lot less like one than it did an interview at a gas station that I had already done dozens of times. The subject matter wasn’t hot, and neither really was the interview. You would have been bored. Isn’t it humorous how we wouldn’t have found that interesting? But it was real. It was where he was before his rise to fame and becoming the leader of the free world.

Rachel Platten didn’t make it big until she was in her mid-30s. She spent a decade or more trying to break into the music world. A pretty girl, with an adorable face and a sweet voice. But one like so many others, most likely to producers. Then the right song hit and while Fight Song was scorching the summer charts she showed up in Columbus to perform at a small stage at the Fashion Meets Music Festival. A stage the size of one she’d performed on many times before. Not long after that, she made her way to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to visit children who were sick… with no purpose of selling songs or getting praise. She did it because she wanted to. Is it any coincidence that less than a year later Nationwide has her on an insurance commercial about children that is catchy and seemingly just as heartfelt as she is? But where was that attention on her very real journey to who she’s become as an artist?

Nobody likes to talk about real. Because real doesn’t sell songs and dominate headlines. And I should probably add that it doesn’t make Facebook posts very interesting. And that’s OK.

One of my friends recently told me that someone called her out for her Facebook posts not being “authentic” enough. When has it become an okay thing to judge how inflammatory or not a person’s posts on social media are? The audacity to do that kind of thing, is beyond comprehension to me. And furthermore…

Who the hell cares?

Apparently somebody– who thinks life is a series of pony rides, fireworks shows, and ice cream sundaes where you stay up all night and use any kind of language you want.

Give me a break.

I think the closer we come to understanding what is real, the closer we come to understand that it means something different for everyone. And it’s not always going to be a page-turner.

But how can we appreciate a great ending without having to sit on a few plateaus?

Love those plateaus and what you’re learning… and sharing with others… while you’re sitting there.