To pretend is to speak and act so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not. Children pretend the ground is lava on the playground during a game of tag. They imagine their world is not the one we live in, just for a little while. Some pretend to have an imaginary friend because they’re an only child and what another sibling. These are all basic examples pertaining to the word “pretend.”
This blog has always been an extension and public stream of my thoughts/confusion. It was originally titled “We’re Just Here Pretending.” My teenage/pre-college brain decided on that name with the help of a Jack Johnson song. I wrote a lot about change, especially during each season, and on my perspective of life given my surroundings and predisposition. I was observing things and reflecting on my experiences. I still do. I was, and still am, curious about other people, their stories, etc. It’s part of the reason I pursued journalism.
Now, in my career, I have to learn how to trust people on an entirely different level of social status and politics. There are times when I wonder why people with a lot of money make the decisions they do. Perhaps they aren’t always the smartest decisions.
During the time Michelle Obama took to promote her new memoir, she revealed something powerful in an interview with novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s often believed that to achieve success with money and power, you must also be intelligent. Obama doesn’t see that to be true.
“Here is the secret,” she added. “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the UN; they are not that smart.”
I now know that to be true as I closely follow politics in the ever-evolving age of information. Our current president has done some questionable things – a position in which I thought, at one point, was held by the smartest person in America.
I’ve started to learn that the most necessary smart qualities include common sense and kindness. I believe part of what Obama is alluding to is that folks at the table are smart enough to know how to talk to certain people to network and get to where they are today.
There’s plenty of people I grew up with who just finished 6-7 years of college to fit into the mold of the career that they aspired to be in. I, on the other hand, decided to swim in the sea of community and networking. I’ve had to navigate more than just a textbook, but it made me learn more about people, their patterns and how they work with each other. That’s something you don’t learn in the classroom.
I recently read a poem written by Robert M. Drake titled “Where it Leads.” It quickly took me back to my early blogging days of “We’re Just Here Pretending” and being a teenager. I learned that people could be fake and be nice to me one day, but then mean the next day. I learned that people acted differently toward me if others were present. They were pretending to be someone else and I was pretending that it didn’t bother me.
“You see,that’s the secret.
Most of us are pretending.
Pretending to know
what we want.
Pretending to know
who we are.
Pretending to know
how we feel.
So don’t feel too bad
if you don’t know where you’re going
What you’re supposed to be doing,
because most of us
are following the same path.
And none of us
really know where it leads.”
I’d say this is a relieving poem. Sure it’s one individual’s perspective, but there’s plenty of opinions relevant to this subject – “fake it ‘till you make it.” Sometimes people do things because they have to and it’s a decision removed from their ego or true feelings. They get backed into a wall. Other people go into thousands of dollars of debt just to pretend they have a lot of money and fancy things. They certainly aren’t in tune with how they truly feel.
I’m not yet equipped with a formula for how to navigate situations that involve people who aren’t sure of themselves, rather, for those who pretend. I do know that if you work hard, you’re honest and mindful, you can get pretty far. Do that, for now, and for good.