Everyone is afraid

Yesterday as I sat in Samovar (patiently) waiting for a friend to arrive, I listened to the conversations around me. As a tea lounge located squarely in downtown San Francisco, the environment invites…a certain group. There was an Asian couple in the corner, giggling over something a guy was showing on a screen. There was a pair of women, obviously relaxing from a shopping spree around Union Square. Then next to me, parents who was meeting their daughter and a visiting boyfriend. And on my right, a couple…seemingly on their first date.

It’s a place of conversation. With an extensive tea menu, the drinks encourage long, wandering conversations, not burdened by alcohol. No sticky tables, no drunken outbursts, no squeezing by fellow singles here. It’s just the truth. Bare honest truth.

And sitting alone, I somehow was almost bothered. The snippets of conversations that traveled to my ear were very light. Very false. A topic of someone’s company that was acquired. The worry, the general concern that work was going to get tough. The small talk conversation of the parents about what an interesting city San Francisco is. And a woman who seemed to just nod in sync with her date, agreeing with every word. I could sense her intention for the night: I want to give a good impression. Let me be the best that I could.

And my friend re-centered me. Everyone is afraid of breaking their reputation and smearing their self. We don’t want to be seen as a bad person, so we spend energy and effort pretending to be someone amazing, someone awesome, someone strong. We hide our weaknesses in our attitude. Then one day, the charade is done. Our curtain breaks down with a disappointment, a rejection. Sometimes we explode. But really most of the time, we just build it up even more…keep pretending and pretending to be someone we’re not.