Keeping up appearances - Who are you?
This autumn we’re going to tackle a new series of articles on Keeping Up Appearances. Does this ring a bell or a huge, howling, flashing blue siren? Perhaps you’re tired of doing it or tired of frequenting people who do? So, we’ll look at the whys and wherefores of this phenomenon, which while not exclusive to the Riviera, is particularly predominant here. Why do people try to fit into circles they don’t belong in? Is it peer pressure, media pressure, ignorance, arrogance? Why do some behave inappropriately on sites such as Facebook? Is it lack of thought, not realising the consequences of their actions or protocol? What on earth is going on? Who is real and who is fake? Are you a circle or a square or a circle in a square?
This month to get the ball rolling, I’m going to raise a few questions to get you thinking and month by month I’ll take an in-depth look at the different aspects of keeping up appearances and what motivates people to give up on being their best possible selves and trade themselves in for a downgraded copy of someone else.
Who do you live for? Who are you trying to impress and why does it matter so much?
Are you happy in your own skin or completely afraid to be you? Do you crave the approval of others or are you content to self-validate?
Are you out of your depth pretending to be someone you’re not, spending money you don’t have, buying clothes you can’t afford, spending too much money on costly cosmetic treatments afraid to enjoy your true age and appearance?
What’s wrong with who you are? Are you pretending to be good at something you know very little about, yet another of the Riviera’s self-proclaimed ‘experts’?
What is it about the Riviera that spawns this kind of behaviour, that pushes people to adopt a persona that they think gives them membership to the glitterazzi club?
What on earth is attractive about being a personal and professional Muppet? Yes I know Miss Piggy is rich and famous but is she really your role model? Let’s face it she makes us laugh but nobody takes her seriously – not even Kermit these days (they recently split up)!
It is true that people need to feel they are wanted, accepted, part of a network/community be it social or professional. It’s the tribal, ‘clan’ instinct in us. If the clan’s ‘tartan’ is perceived as being seen to have a flashy, expensive car, then that’s what the new would-be member buys in order to be accepted within that clan. The idea being, that by starting out on the correct rung of the ladder you’ve got more chance of reaching the top. The chances are though that by doing that you’ll just find yourself with a bunch of superficial wannabes who are doing the same as you and you’ll all come crashing down together! The real ‘tartan’ wearers don’t feel the need to flash their wealth around, - quite the opposite. The genuinely rich and famous feel the need to be discreet, to protect their lifestyle and privacy and they cherry pick those they want in their ‘entourage’. In the words of one Monaco billionaire: ‘Money talks but Wealth keeps its mouth shut’.
Keeping up appearances isn’t all about money. Why do people stay in dysfunctional relationships, put their children in expensive schools when they can’t afford the fees, or go to gyms that don’t match their wallets?
Today social media has become the new market place in which you can spend your social currency, yet interestingly enough only in the eyes of those who post. The sad fact is, that those who are really living the ‘vida loca’ don’t brag, boast or post! So what you are advertising is that you are living your life through a camera lens rather than through true-life experiences. Remember when we had photo albums that we showed to the family only? Remember when we talked to other people about our holidays and experiences? Do you get together and discuss with real human beings or do you post and have virtual discussions and why? Why do people feel the need to update the world on their every movement with many posts being entirely inappropriate? Those who are really connecting are doing it off line.Those who are truly living the life that the social media wannabes aspire to, do not post it all on-line. So therefore if you are spilling your guts on Facebook the game is up! Ask yourself if you’re hungry for the feedback and recognition you’re not getting in ‘real’ life? Social media can be a great professional tool and a lifeline for families and friends separated by continents but in the latter case you can create your own secret groups for that purpose and post your pictures for only your family to see. The people you are aspiring to emulate do that I can assure you. It is a curiously sad fact that those who wish to stir up the envy of others are those who are the least enviable and those whom you may envy go to great lengths to avoid provoking jealousy of any kind. They don’t need to keep up appearances because they already know who are they are.
Another chapter we’ll look at is how you behave as a parent. In these days of high divorce and neo-singledom, what does this mean for your ‘appearances’? If you are still in a couple are you pushing your children to do every activity under the sun to be able to use them as social currency? Are you considering the risks when posting pictures of them on-line? Does the wider world really need to see the latest princess outfit or the first day at school picture? Are you really such a ‘happy family’ or trying to create the illusion of one and for whose benefit?
Of course we cannot talk about Monaco without mentioning VIPs and Royalty and naturally where they tread, go also their sycophants, a particularly unsavoury breed who trade off their ‘close connections’ to these deities and who should be avoided at all costs. There is certainly no need to keep up appearances with this species – they don’t want you, they want your money!
Rather than appearances let ‘happiness’, ‘achievement’ and ‘satisfaction’ be your currency – there’s no substitute for the real thing. We’ll be taking a look over the coming months at how you can do that .
And if you need any help finding out who you ‘really’ are, turning your life around and understanding how your best talents can be genuinely deployed, I can be reached at the email below.