To most of the world, Texas must seem a strange and foreign place. It was once a republic. It has more land than any country in Europe. And it boasts enough high school football stadiums to hold the entire population of Oklahoma.
I hadn’t been back in nearly two years, and with a list of restaurants to visit, I met my friends for a BBQ dinner. As we pulled into the parking lot, I laughed. Two well-fed (and well-sedated) Longhorns stood in the To Go Food parking spaces. We learned that they were hired for a rehearsal dinner, which helped explain it. Kind of.
Once inside, Matt and Mendy tried to convince me that the horned rooster on the wall was real, while Chris pointed out the black-and-white photo of an old Texas rancher.
“Do you think people in Texas actually decorate like this?” I asked the table.
Erin quickly answered, “No… This is just what people think Texas is like.”
“Yeah, but did the stereotype of Texas come from a reality? Or, did the reality grow from the stereotype?”
Maybe my question was irrelevant. As full-blooded Texans, most of them had never considered the Texas-themed-image. That’s what they knew. What they lived in. The restaurant looked like Texas because it was Texas.
But, I couldn’t help but wonder how often an image or false reality is played off as true reality. When the cubic zirconia is misidentified as a diamond.
We live in a world where social media is often our only lens into another person’s life. And trust me – that filtered, edited, glossy image is not the authentic reality. But we create this online personality. This image. We create a brand. And with enough time and enough practice selling the brand, we believe it. And become it.
The imitation is our reality.
I can’t imagine that Texans decorated with the chintzy, over-the-top decor of the BBQ restaurant. But now, perhaps they do. The cheap, gaudy imitation is now its own brand. And people buy into it.
This past year, I’ve stepped back from a lot of social media. It’s hard not to see through the superficiality. The platform for selling skincare and snake oil. Accomplishments and accolades. There must be something deeper. Under the surface.
And yet, I fear that for many, the mask has become more comfortable. Or, it’s been worn so long that it’s impossible to peel off.
I want you to know that you are enough.
Exactly as you are.
You don’t have to pretend.