Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a sports banquet in which the speaker was Alexandria native and former placekicker for the Dallas Cowboys, Chris Boniol. The part of his speech that struck me most was when he said, “As athletes, we are told what to do. We are told when to be at practice, when to sleep, when to wake up, when to get on the bus, what to eat and when to eat it. Our coach’s job is to prepare us. Our job is to perform. But what happens when we are no longer part of that world? We remain performers, only unsure of what to do.” It reminded me of something a doctor once told my father when he was undergoing cancer treatment, “We are all actors on a stage.” When someone asks how we are feeling, our answer is usually “Fine, thanks.” When someone asks how our day was, our answer is usually, “It was good.” Our answers assume that either we feel no one wants to know the truth or we compare our lives to others, who are also acting, and we give an “appropriate” answer, because no one prepared us to be real.
We are all actors on a stage. Social media has made the stage larger, reaching worldwide with our followers and “likes.” We compare our bodies to photos of others that were taken at the best angle, with the best lighting, the perfect filter or completely Photoshopped. We are envious of those in videos shown having fun and living seemingly carefree lives. Thus, we get up every morning and put on our costume and mask, and we perform on the stage to appear to be the perfect person with the perfect life. What we must realize is that those same people in those photographs and videos are also on stage. To delve deeper, we must sometimes remove our masks and show a true piece of ourselves. That is the part that is unsure, the part no one ever taught us. A good actor knows that timing is everything and we must also learn there is a time for honesty, a time to show the world how perfectly imperfect we are. It will either embrace us or cast us aside. Either way, we win. For when we look at the man in the mirror, it will be with eyes wide open—with no illusions about who we are—and the next act will be loving ourselves.