I was sitting at a table recently with two longtime friends and a third person I had just met that day. We were catching up and chatting like old friends, and then it was down to business: I had a story to do. I asked my straightforward questions and got right to the point.
Sometimes when conducting an interview, I make it so easy to chat that I end up hearing people’s life stories. They feel like they’re talking to an old friend and after they’ve said too much, they’ll remember they are with a reporter and I’ll get the “Oh but please don’t print that last part.”
I nod in understanding thinking “Yeah, no way would I want someone to say that about me. No worries.” Sometimes there are things that just don’t belong in a story. And the No. 1 rule of thumb I stand by as a journalist: Get the truth without burning your sources.
As a journalist you ask the easy questions first, save the hard ones for last in case they are so upset by it that they tell you the interview is over. At least you have something instead of just a story with one quote: “No comment.”
But I’ve known these “sources” for quite a long time. They know that when they say something is “Off the Record,” it really is off the record. So when I ask questions, we get right to it. Sometimes my voice is harsh and accusatory and the questions aren’t easy. Sometimes it’s friendly and I laugh along the way.
As we finished the interview, the third person said: “You aren’t going to print … are you?”
I looked at him like he had lost his mind. “Of course not! That’s not even relevant to the story.”
Then I realized he didn’t know me. And then, to get to the point of this whole blog, a conversation I had with my dear friend Joyce the weekend before came to the forefront of my mind.
“I married Joe because I could be myself around him,” she said.
I realized that I am completely myself in front of these particular friends. As we started talking about a particular relationship, I dropped the reporter mode and went into “Happy Jen,” “Fun Jen,” “Joking Jen” and then even “Defensive, Plea-ful Jen” as I explained why I am doing something as they raised their eyebrows and asked “Really Jen?”
I’m myself. And comfortable.
When I’m hanging out with Corry, it’s the same way. I am completely myself.
And that made me realize that I’ve NEVER been in a relationship where I was myself.
Granted I finally got to the point where I could wear no make up, wake up in the morning without having brushed my teeth yet or showered, no wig, etc and felt completely beautiful anyway with the person I was dating.
That has happened once.
I’m grateful for feeling that way. It means a lot to me that someone makes me feel beautiful and I feel beautiful around them 24 hours a day. But I want what Joyce has. I want to BE myself all the time.
I think that may have something to do with the person you are dating, but I also think it might have something to do with how you see yourself. It is now my quest.
I was recently told: “Just be yourself.”
Now how to do that?
Any thoughts on how to BE yourself in a relationship? I could use some pointers!