I never believed “true colors” was a thing, until I met people who ended up showing them. Even after those encounters, I still don’t believe people have “true colors.”
I believe people are exactly who they are. They just pick and choose what they want to show people, and when.
I’ve fallen victim to filtering people with lenses that see them higher, better, or more than what they actually are. People who are nice for a period of time, automatically are seen as genuine. People who show some act of kindness are seen as good-hearted. Women who show they take care of their man are seen as ‘wifey material.’ & Men who open doors for women are automatically gentlemen.
Any time there is interest, people pay close attention to putting their best foot forward. This goes for anything – education, athletics, relationships, friendships, careers, etc. We have all the potential in the world to be damn near anything for ourselves and with anyone, but that’s all it is. Potential.
A doctor will not be a doctor without that degree and hours of residency behind him/her. The greatest athlete cannot be the greatest without the years of hard work put in. A man will not be faithful without proving himself to be trustworthy. A woman will not be a wife until she practices what she preaches. A friend cannot be loyal until things hit the fan, and their presence shows you so. You cannot get that promotion until you’ve proven your worthiness. A drug addict cannot become sober unless he/she gets the help he/she needs.
Basically, what all this means is, you can have all the potential in the world. But having potential only does one of two things: pushes you to reach it, or leaves you with missed opportunities. Depending on what those opportunities are, you might never get them back.
“Best foot forward,” “Honeymoon phase,” “True colors,” are all phrases disguised for people’s potential rather than their true self. We have a tendency to see the best in people, especially ones we keep closest to us. It jades our vision of reality to the point where we get stuck when we see people for who they are one day, and we almost don’t want to believe it.
A lesson I’ve had to relearn time and time again has to do with seeing people for who they could be, instead of who they are. I’ve had the tendency to meet people where I expected them to be rather than where they were at currently. & the person who has suffered the most from that has always been me.
I naturally like to see the best in people. I grew up believing people may do wrong every now and then, but everyone has some good trait about them. And I’ve always had a tendency to want to fix people. Time, and especially people, have taught me the hard way that all this does is set me up for disappointment and emotional instability.
Some people may be good, genuine people, and still be toxic for you. Some people may be great friends, but not a great significant other. Some people may have all the resources at their fingertips to allow them to reach their potential, but until they take advantage of them, the potential quickly turns into the missed opportunity. It’s always a decision they need to make for themselves. No matter how much potential you see in them, or how hard you push them, they’ll never come close to it unless they do it for themselves.
Cutting people out who remain at a level where they are, when they have the potential to be something way more is essential for growth. Take these people as lessons to teach even yourself to live at your capacity, not just where you are. Realize that people may be dressed and disguised in potential that can reel you in. Once they reveal who they really are, that’s okay. See them for their truth. Some things just happen to look better on paper anyways.
“Potential should be the icing, never the cake.” -Jada Pinkett Smith
Photo via: Luciana Rondolini Photography
-Keilani M Afalava