Have you ever noticed how many fake people there are? Especially on social media. People portray themselves as happy or knowledgeable or insulted or offended just because they think it makes them seem better or smarter or more real.
Several years ago there was a TV show with Martha Stewart. It was a celebrity apprentice type of show and the winner was able to work with Martha for one year. One of the contestants was from Orlando, a former news anchor. She was “fired” from the show by Martha when she used the line “fake it ‘til you make it.” Martha Stewart was appalled… and told the woman that she should always be real and authentic.
While part of me wholeheartedly agreed with Martha, there was another part of me that understood where the news anchor was coming from.
When you work in television news, there’s a part of you that always has to fake it. That doesn’t mean we aren’t real people with real feelings. It doesn’t mean we are putting on a big act and trying to be someone we’re not on TV.
The camera does not lie. What you see is what you get. The best television news workers are those who can be their true authentic self on camera. My reactions are real. My emotions are real. My bias is real (but supposed to be hidden).
Despite all of that “realness,” part of me still has to fake it every day.
I’m not allowed to be in a bad mood. I’m not allowed to have a bad day. (Of course, I have bad HAIR days all the time… and boy, you let me know about it when I do – haha).
Viewers want to hear whether or not it’s going to rain, and they want to hear it from someone who is upbeat and happy, especially in the morning. You don’t want to watch somebody deliver the weather who is sad, upset, crying, bothered, disgusted, angry, distracted.
But I’m a real person with real pain and real emotion. I live a real life.
I have family and friends dealing with addiction. I have a dear uncle who struggled through, and eventually died from, cancer. I have friends going through painful divorces. I have a sister who was in Iraq on two separate tours, and now lives in Africa. I have children who get sick and suffer from the flu. I am tired. I have a husband who has to cancel a job at the last minute, because I need to stay late at work for a tornado warning.
Some days I might not be dealing with a huge amount of stress on my shoulders. Maybe I just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and don’t feel like talking to anyone. Ever have one of those days? Imagine if I came into work one day and said, “I just don’t feel like talking.” On average I talk for 51 minutes during each 4.5 hour morning show. There should be a FitBit for talking instead of walking. Just think of the calories I could burn from talking!
When painful or troubling things are happening in my life, I can’t wear those emotions on my sleeve. I have to be happy… and sometimes the happiness is not authentic. Sometimes it is fake and the “pretend” has to be turned on.
Outside of the daily stress, and the extraordinary painful circumstances, like death and cancer and sickness, there is the daily “critiquing” I take from viewers on social media – people who don’t like my hair or my clothes or my forecast. They might be having a bad day, and suddenly I become their punching bag. Although my husband may disagree, I don’t have a punching bag. I choose not to be mean back to the viewers who make the nasty comments.
So the big question is “How do you remain authentic in an inauthentic world?”
It’s important to surround myself with authentic people. By authentic, I don’t mean happy all the time… I mean real. I don’t mean people who self-proclaim authenticity by writing it in their Instagram profile. If they have to tell me they are authentic, they probably aren’t.
There are some people in my life whom I believe are my friends only because they think it’s cool that I’m on TV. I can spot them a mile away. It’s okay. We can be friends. But we’ll never be close friends. I have a few friends with whom I can be my absolute self. Some I’ve known for years. Some I’ve just met. I also have my family. These are the people who have my back, who won’t gossip about me or tell my secrets. They are the ones who don’t judge me, but call me out when I’m wrong.
Real people with real problems who keep it real with me: that is the definition of true authenticity. As long as I have authentic people around me, I can be my authentic self.