The Best of "30 Days of Real"

When I was growing up, it was popular to tell someone to "be yourself."

Unfortunately, the manifestation of this advice was often not an increase in authenticity but an increase in obnoxiousness. "Be yourself" ended up meaning, "Use the version of your public facade that pretends not to care what others think."

Despite all this, we all still walked around subject to the same subconscious social norms and pretending that there were not horrible truths about ourselves and our past. Our social rules that we follow every day are full of pretense and games. The adolescent problem of being scared to death of someone finding the real you does not go away as we get older, we just get better at the game. When we don't go along with the pretense and games, we often pay a social penalty. Unless it's in a movie, of course, like the scene from Office Space where Peter is talking to "the Bobs" about how much he hates his job and is promoted for his honesty.

Blogger Tricia Lovejoy wrote, "Authenticity says to others that you are genuine and real without pretending to be someone who you are not. So when I am authentic, the 'me' that people see at church is the same 'me' that people will see at Wal-Mart, a restaurant, or my child’s ballgame."

The world lacks this authenticity. It's for this reason that I deeply appreciated a recent social network phenomenon that I think many others found silly. It was called 30 Days of Real. It was described as being "one month of sharing our realness, messiness, quirks and funny flaws to become more authentic, vulnerable and beautifully imperfect." People were challenged to post something about themselves, once a day for 30 days, that gets closer to "the real them" and wouldn't necessarily pass muster for civilized conversation without making people uncomfortable.

A surprising number of people missed the point. Some were just keeping a daily diary. Some posted about others instead of themselves. But here are some of the real, hard-hitting ones that particularly struck me.


"I still throw adult-version tantrums when things don't go my way. I slam doors, scream and yell, and often take it out on everyone... yet I'm still able to mask it in public."

"The reason why I can't take a joke is because of all the teasing I endured as a child."

"Looking back I see times my daughter needed me and I failed her. I won't miss those opportunities again."

"Everybody always tells me to enjoy my kids because they grow up so fast. I try. I really do. But I just don't enjoy being around them half the time."

"I smile a lot in public to mask my depression."

"My own personality is my greatest insecurity. I feel boring and uninteresting."

"Sometimes I wish I could just build a wall around my heart and myself."

"My first few relationships were bad, and it was my fault. I treated my girlfriends like crap."

"I often hold others to an unfair higher standard. Then I criticize when they don't meet my expectations."

"I say that I don't care what people think because that's something a strong person says. It's a lie. I do care what people think, so much so that it can consume my thoughts."

"One of my biggest fears is not knowing an answer to a question. I have a troubling need to look smart and knowledgeable."


The Bible contains more of this human vulnerability than we may realize. One of my personal favorites is Paul's lament in Romans 7 of his own hypocrisy and inconsistency: "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:18b-19). Jesus, on multiple occasions, praised vulnerability and honest confession over a good public show (Matthew 6:5-6; Luke 15:21, 18:10-14). Part of what makes the Bible uncomfortable for some is that it can be so raw and real. From Noah getting drunk and naked right off the ark (Gen 9:20-21) to David's sins and confessions (2 Sam 11; 2 Chr 21; Psalm 51) to the sensual desires described in the Song of Songs, the Bible is full of real life as we know it but may be too pious to admit.

So perhaps I should end with my own vulnerable, authentic statement. So here it is:

The reason that all the above quotes particularly struck me is because they are at least partially true of me as well. #30daysofreal.