I long for the old days of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, stars who had real glamour and mystique. We only knew so much about their lives; the rest was a mystery. —Pixie Lott
In the comments for my last post on the importance of being mysterious, the question was raised about finding the balance between being authentic and being mysterious. I want to clarify that I don’t think being mysterious means being fake. But, I don’t think we have to expose every bit of ourselves up to the light for examination in the name of authenticity. I don’t walk around naked so that people can see what my figure really looks like. No, I try to wear clothes that make me feel beautiful. It’s the same way with the rest of your life–just because it is authentic, doesn’t mean it has to be exposed. So, here are my ideas on how to be mysterious while also being authentic.
How to Be Mysterious
- Self-edit your social media– The next time you feel the urge to rant about something on social media, stop. The next time you want time you want to let everyone know you are at Joe’s Fast Foodpalooza or standing in line to see a movie, stop. Except for your inner circle of friends and family who worry about your health, you don’t need to let people know that you are at Iron Woman Gym. Change your privacy settings on your smart phone so that your social media apps don’t automatically send out “check ins.” (Although this is a conversation about being mysterious, turning off the location feature on your apps is also an important safety strategy since it gives strangers information about you, too)
- Stop venting–A quote came through my Pinterest stream about how most people don’t care about your problems so we should stop telling them to others. The actual quote was a bit harsh but the underlying message has some truth to it. Stop complaining about things to people outside of your inner circle unless you are ready to take action to correct the problem. Remember: A glamorous life appears to be free of problems. It isn’t. But others don’t need to know and you want to be known as being mysterious, not as a complainer. I’ve seen too many people who had legitimate complaints ignored because of their reputations as complainers. There is a difference between “venting” and sharing problems with your inner circle. (Edited to add: I added an emphasis because people who just scan miss that important phrase and seem to think that I’m advocating you keep your problems to yourself and send me angry emails. No. What I’m saying is that you should be discreet about who you tell them to–you inner circle of friends and family.)
- Keep your own counsel–Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it. I’ll admit that I’m struggling with this. My work at the university requires a lot of relationship and trust building so that faculty feel safe sharing their fears and frustrations with me. I have become aware that I mirror other people’s stories with my own “connecting story” that enables them to know that I understand what they are going through. But I’m doing it more often than I need to do. There is a time and place for it but not all the time. I’ve been reflecting upon the story of Christ’s birth to remind myself that it is okay not to provide a mirror or connecting story in every conversation. In the Scriptures, Luke 2:19 points out that Mary kept all of the events in her heart and meditated on them. If anyone had a reason to talk about what was going on, it was the mother of Christ. But she just kept her thoughts to herself and pondered them from time to time (Although, to be fair, can you imagine how that conversation would go? There’s really not a lot of room to say, “You’re kidding! That happened to me, TOO!” when you’re talking about mangers, shepherds, and angels filling the sky…)[Tweet “Just because it is authentic, doesn’t mean it has to be exposed. “]
- Really listen to others–You’ll be considered a great conversationalist if you ask questions that enable another person to talk about themselves instead of looking for an opportunity to talk yourself. I think listening and hearing others has become a lost art.
- Be a bit more formal in your interactions with others (but not in a pretentious or creepy way)–One thing that jumps out at me when I watch television shows and movies made before 1965 is how formal people are with each other. They address people they don’t know by their title and last name. Maybe it is time that way of interacting with others is brought back (I know, I know…you extroverts are just being friendly by calling people by their first names but it kind of freaks us raging introverts out a bit…we need to warm up to you a bit).
Those are some ideas that came to my mind. Do you have any others?