I’m sure you’ve heard some version of the phrase, “Character is who you are when no one is looking.”
It makes sense, right? Everyone can put on a show, wear a mask, blend in. In fact, we wear different masks for different crowds. We may want to appear one way at church, and another at school or work. Our families may see an entirely different side of us altogether.
Who are you when no one’s looking? A better question is, do you behave differently when you are alone than when you are with people? What’s your motivation? Is it to please others, impress them, or control them?
I always thought that phrase meant you shouldn’t steal or cheat or gossip. Usually, these are things that are not done out in the open anyway. If you try to steal when someone’s looking, you’re either a horrible thief or you’ve just won an accomplice. At least that’s how it goes when it comes to the cookie jar.
Cheating is something I was rarely tempted to do in school. I hear students today say that it’s no big deal; everyone does it. That’s sad. Cheating on spouses is also done in secret, and as Mark Sanders can surely testify, it reflects on your character.
Gossip is a temptation for me. I make observations about people. Sometimes they are very astute, or at least amusing. I like to share them with others, to share in the humor or the drama. It’s not right- to say something about someone you wouldn’t say to his or her face- but it’s easy to do.
I’m not perfect, but I think I’m pretty much the same whether I am by myself or alone. There are a few exceptions. I talk to myself and even answer back at times. I dance, even at the office, when no one is looking. I even have the urge to do a cartwheel at times, but I think the ability left around junior high. I sing. I’m not talking about choir music either. I make up a song, or I do my own arrangement, or I make up words for lyrics I don’t know.
So, if character is who you are when no one is looking, I’m either insane, or a four-year-old child. C’est la vie!