Let's say you've ordered a pizza. A really good pizza. A pizza that you've been craving for days. You eagerly pick up your pizza and you can't wait to devour every last cheesy bite. You open the box and...wait...there isn't actually a carb/cheese-lovers delight in there at all. Instead, there's a grease-stained, cardboard cutout of a pizza... it isn't the real thing. It's a fake.

What's my point about the pizza? In a society where social media and superficiality reign, there's too much fake in this world. Or rather, there isn't enough authenticity. We hide behind our idealized social media profiles; we share only the positives, the success and not the trials and challenges; we portray the life we want to live or who we wish we were. It's the elephant in the room: we know that life is messy and yet we act as if disclosing our struggles is taboo. Say you're fine when you couldn't be farther from it. Fake happiness when your heart is actually breaking inside. Play the part of conformity. Go through the motions. Suppress what you're longing to be liberated from.

While this is definitely a generalization, I think this is more common a mindset than we care to admit. You know what? It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to admit that times have been tough lately; that you're weary and worn from the weight of a burden; that you don't actually have everything together; that you feel broken inside even though you wear a fake smile.

It's okay to be honest. When we aren't honest with ourselves, when we don't acknowledge and accept our current circumstances, then our relationships with others lose their authenticity as well. These connections can only go so deep and so far when we aren't willing to bring our real selves, our true feelings, the good and the bad, the triumphs and the trials, to the table. Like filling a car with regular unleaded when it needs diesel, it will quickly run out of steam and cease to function the way it was designed.

We are so quick to say, "I'm fine" or to take the attention away from ourselves--not that you have to spout your inner feelings to every person that asks, "How are you?", but the next time a friend genuinely asks how you are, I want to challenge you to be honest and be real. Trust me, this is something I need to be reminded of as much as anyone else. They might even be able to identify with your struggles and, if nothing else, they can be a source of encouragement, a listening ear. Be there for each other, encourage one another, pray for each other. Life can be rough and relentless, but it is much more bearable if we don't walk this journey alone. Surround yourself with faithful friends who not only accept your authenticity, but reciprocate it as well.

Let's take off the masks and step down from the stage—we are so much more than a part to play.