“Are you from Boston?” It’s my natural ice breaker with people in Red Sox hats.
We were standing on the sidelines as our kids played together at the park. A normal scene – yes. But it’s fun when commonalities go beyond parenting and presence. I asked my question expecting we had an easy connection.
“No, actually. We are from Philadelphia. People always seem to ask us if we are from Boston?!”
She seemed confused.
“Umm…maybe it’s the Boston Red Sox hats?” I’d hoped I didn’t sound patronizing.
“Yeah, maybe. We love these hats. They fit great. But people do always think we’re from Boston.”
Her husband (also in a Red Sox hat) leans over and whispers
“I’m actually a Yankees fan.”
My own confusion felt justified.
Externally, a Red Sox fan. But, internally, a Yankees fan?
Years ago, I went to a Yankees/Red Sox game in the Bronx. The ballpark, the subway, and the city were crawling with Yankees fans. I refused to wear one of my many Red Sox shirts for fear of my life. It is not a kind rivalry.
I was disoriented by this closet Yankees fan accessorizing himself with a Red Sox lid.
It’s disorienting when the outside doesn’t match the inside.
But it happens more often than you’d think.
Everyone has their reasons (some more bizarre than others), but people do it all.the.time.
Hiding their true identity behind conflicting behavior. Living contrary to their values. Living outside their authenticity.
The struggle is real.
When my outside doesn’t match my inside, it comes down to one of these reasons:
I’m unsettled with the inside.
I’m obsessed with the outside.
I’m unaware of the gap between the two.
Either this guy didn’t really get what it meant to be a Yankees fan, he was afraid of what others would think of his fandom, or he had no clue the depth and breadth of the rivalry.
There was a gap between his fandom and his behavior.
Where is the gap in my life? Where do my beliefs, values, and preferences lie abandoned? Where do my words say that which my heart doesn’t support? Where do my decisions and behaviors march to a tune much different than what’s deeded deep down?
And what drives that gap?
Am I not so sure what I’m really about? Am I still deciding my values or coming to terms with my identity?
Am I giving too much power to the critics, those on the outside? Am I keeping the real me in because of what others might think, say or do? Does their judgment define me, direct me, or decide for me?
Am I just not aware? Am I ignoring the presence of a gap? Am I misunderstanding the disparity between the person on the inside and the pressures from the outside? Declaring one thing with my mouth and living another thing with my attitudes and actions.
It’s downright confusing. For me. And for everyone else.
They lose the real me and I lose integrity.
That guy? It’s time to lose the hat or he’s going to have it handed to him.