Contributed by: Jihad Mahmoud
This is one of the so many amazing dialogues that took place between the sweet actress “Julie Delpy” (Celine) and Ethan Hawke (Jesse) in the movie “Before Sunset”, the sequel to “Before sunrise”. The movie just aired on TV about a couple of weeks ago and this conversation really struck my attention, most specifically, this line where Jesse says:
“It was more like I had this idea of my best self and I wanted to pursue that even if it might have been overriding my honest self”.
This is just brilliant! Because that’s the trap many of us tend to fall into and it’s where our lives mostly crumble; when our choices in life are based on how to “look” perfect, rather than on how to “feel” “perfect”, and there’s a difference. When we aim to “look” perfect, external gratification is our main concern; we do anything and everything even if it was something against our true heart’s wish to see admiration in other people’s eyes and even in our own just by knowing that we conformed to other people’s standards of greatness and success. Aiming to “feel” perfect is the complete opposite; it’s when internal gratification is what we’re looking for. We do our best to achieve our own dreams and heart desires to truly feel good about ourselves regardless of what other people think. And that’s our “best self” versus our “honest self”. In pursuing the first, we miss on the true meaning of happiness in our lives that comes with the second – our “honest self”.
It simply happens because we strive to satisfy others rather than ourselves; we strive to satisfy our egos rather than our souls. We hold the facade of being happy and content with our lives when truly inside there’s a dark bottomless well of void that this seeming perfection will never be able to fill.
In Egypt for example, I believe that to be the number one reason for most of our marriage and relationship failures. We simply get married because we’ve reached the age in which we’re “supposed” to get married. We don’t say “no” to an unsuitable suitor because we won’t find someone else as appropriate and will socially be dubbed “spinsters”. We stay in unhappy relationships because if we choose to leave, we’ll be condemned for life by people who know nothing about how we feel and how we might be withering and dying every day just for the sake of looking and acting “perfect”. No wonder then why people walk on the streets like zombies feeding on envying each other for the happiness one managed to have and the other couldn’t bring into their own lives.
Take this other worse scenario; remember “Julia Roberts” in “Runaway bride”? Remember how she didn’t even know how she liked her eggs simply because she used to eat it scrambled with one fiancé and well-cooked with another. She just suited her taste to whoever she got in a relationship with. And that was exactly why she always ran away; she didn’t actually know what she truly wanted out of life. And that’s what happens when we always try to be perfect and only aim to please. We lose ourselves along the way. We believe our own pretensions to be our true selves, and loss and confusion become our constant and best companions in life.
Life is all about “living it” and we will never be able to truly live it and feel its awesomeness without being true to what we are, true to what we want. In following our hearts, even if it sometimes led us astray, we’re actually being loyal to our human nature that’s not made to be constantly perfect but to be constantly evolving and it’s only through our own misdoings that we’ll learn and change and hopefully evolve.
Without this truthfulness and honesty with one’s self, most our actions and emotions will be fake and unreal, mere pretensions that don’t really represent who we are. And as much as this is unfair to ourselves, it’s also unfair to the people around us whose merest right upon us is to be as honest with them in whatever emotions we display as we are with ourselves and that’s the only way trust can be built and pain and heartache can be avoided.
Shakespeare once said:
“Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.”
Let’s not lose ourselves; let’s always be true to ourselves above all. It’s easier said than done but we shall always try because if we actually thought about it, it’s the only way to true perfection. A perfection that’s felt not only looked.