Would you rather be liked or fully known?

While scrolling through Twitter, which I do far more often than I’d like to admit, I came across this quote:

“Because what’s better than being roundly liked is being fully known.”

Intrigued, I clicked the attached link and arrived at an article by Jessica Valenti, who writes on “Feminism, sexuality and social justice. With a sense of humor.”

The article dealt with the tendency for women to cling to “likability” as a gauge for self-worth, “often to their own detriment.” Valenti described how women dial down their personalities and true selves in order to be accepted in career and social circles, and in doing so, lessen their power and effectiveness.

In other words, they lose respect and identity behind the cardboard personas they assume people want to see.

This was written from a specifically feminist point of view, but I believe the issue speaks to both sexes, and the culture at large.

We tend to fear rejection so much that we create multiple versions of ourselves to cater to different audiences. This usually happens subconsciously, like an innate survival tactic working in the background.

Jokes that fly with one group may fall flat on another. Transparency may be admirable to this friend, but the new acquaintance might be put off. So we shape-shift accordingly.

I often find myself smiling and nodding in a conversation with someone I completely disagree with for fear that they may judge me if they knew my opinion. This may be an effective way to dodge conflict, but it ultimately makes authentic relationship impossible, be it personal or professional.

Jessica Valenti seems to favor the let it all hang out approach here; to her, “being liked is overrated.” I agree to an extent.

If EVERYONE likes you, chances are no one really knows you.

You will never really be comfortable in your own skin. This brings me back to the thesis statement that drew me in initially: “what’s better than being roundly liked is being fully known.”

My eyes were first drawn to the phrase fully known because it reminds me of what the Bible says about God.

The concept presented throughout Scripture is that God knows the thoughts and intentions of men, all of the selfishness and arrogance, the pain and insecurity.

He sees us at our worst, knowing things about us that would drive even our closest friends and family members away, and yet he seeks a relationship with us.

Not only that, He offers unconditional love and acceptance, despite our countless flaws, not based on what we can do for Him, but what He has already done for us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

To me, that is what it means to be fully known. Jessica would probably disagree with my conclusion, favoring cultural awakening over spiritual renewal, but we both agree that hope is found in love.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Tim Keller

What do you think? Join the discussion in the comment section below.

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Photo Credit: photobunny (Creative Commons)

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