post written by: Marc Chernoff

Just The Way You Are

Just The Way You Are

What is uttered from the heart alone,
Will win the hearts of others to your own.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This morning I was writing a blog entry at a local beach-side coffee shop here in San Diego when a young woman approached me.  “You’re Marc, right?” she asked.

I looked up at her.  She had piercing eyes, a pierced nose, an elegant smile… but nothing that rang a bell.  “I’m sorry.  Do I know you?” I inquired politely.

“No,” she replied.  “But I know you.”  She swiftly walked back to the table where she’d been sitting, picked up her laptop, and carried it over to me.  On the screen was Marc and Angel Hack Life.  “You look just like your photo,” she said in a chipper tone.

I smiled.  “So you’re one of the seven people who read it.”

She blushed.  “What I like about your writing is that it’s so real.”

I cleared my throat.  “Real?” I asked.

“I mean… you don’t hide anything.  You say it just like it is.  And that gives me hope!”

“How do you know that I don’t hide anything?” I asked.

She paused, tilted her head slightly and squinted her eyes as if, maybe, to look for something inside me that she had missed before.  “Well, your words seem so, so… honest.”

Her compliment was appreciated, but it didn’t feel fair.  Perhaps because I’m not very good at accepting compliments, or perhaps because I’ve been thinking about honesty lately… and I’ve decided that I don’t like the word and its connotations.

The Ruse

“There are some things you should probably know,” I said.  “If I know a picture is being taken of me, I usually make a crooked half smile because I think it’s sexy.  If an attractive girl touches my arm, I flex a little bit because I think she prefers harder muscles.  And if I know people are coming over to my condo, I run around like a mad man and make it spotless before they arrive, because I’d like them to think that I’m clean and organized all of the time.”


“And that’s just the beginning,” I continued.  “When I write a blog entry, I’m typically only writing about the people and experiences that inspire a single sentence that moves me.  For instance, in today’s post that sentence is: “Honesty is a matter of perception and intention.”  The rest is just my attempt to bring that sentence to life – to show why it’s meaningful to me.”

“But can’t you see…”

“And when I want to impress someone I’ve just met for the first time, I pretend that I’m overly outgoing and fearless.  And I try to say funny or profound things like, “Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.”  But it usually doesn’t come out right because I don’t really want to be funny or fearless or profound.  Not right then.  I just want to break the ice and introduce myself.  And I want to do it without stumbling over my words…”

“Marc, this is exactly the kind of honesty that inspires me!”

“You’re missing the point.  These are revelations… and they’re revealing the ruse.  The sexy crooked smiles aren’t the smiles you see most often.  And the blog posts rarely include the sentences that inspire them.  And the folks I introduce myself to don’t see the real me, and they don’t realize that I’m nervous because I’m trying to impress them… because I want them to like me… and because…”

You’re The Guy

“Who are you trying to impress?” she asked.

“That’s not the point,” I said.

“But I want to know,” she insisted.

“This is what I mean…” I continued.  “An honest person would just tell it to you straight.  But I write stories about a guy who wishes he was his cat, and nights of dancing naked, and Jamaican women in ice cream parlors… and who the heck knows what will come next.”

“But you’re the guy who wishes he was his cat, right?” she asked.

I grinned. “Shhh… don’t tell anyone.”

“But won’t the new people you want to impress and all of the important people in your life know how you feel… now?” she asked.

“No,” I replied.  “I don’t think they read this blog.”


We shared a long silence during which her gaze locked directly into the depths of my eyes.  Finally, she said, “I think I understand better why you give me hope.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because at some point the world forgot – or perhaps never knew – that honesty isn’t about whether we make sexy smiles for the camera, mask autobiographical blog posts about our desires to be a cat, or try not to show our apprehension before meeting someone new.  Rather, honesty – revelation – is a matter of perception and intention.  And somebody recognizes that.  And it gives me hope and makes me think.”

I smiled.  “And one other thing,” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“I’m pretty sure that whoever you want to impress will appreciate you just the way you are.  I know I do.”

Photo by: Toni Blay

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  • Hi Marc and Angel.

    First I must say that that is classic about the situation and the laptop being brought over to you. It is cool to hear about a realistic connection between reader and writer.

    The message you are elucidating here is a worthy one. The fact that you had relevant points that you brought up to her, about how you were picking from the cream of the crop moments, or the certain examples that presented a message, without showing all that led up to the examples, shows what we are glad to hear about. It shows that your mind is still headed in the direction of more honesty, even with all the truthfulness you provide here, which is a good sign for future readers.

    Although it would have worked for you to accept her compliments and let her on her way, you showed that you are not satisfied with the regular methods of presenting a filtered image of yourself.

    You serve as a strong example of what society should strive to emulate in various respects.

  • I’ve been thinking quite a bit about honesty and authenticity lately and along with this great post, Duff from also had some interesting thoughts in this article:

    Love that last line too. Just tweeted it out. :-)

  • Wow ! It is rare that people write with so much honesty. Believe me.
    I started thinking about the times when I tried hard to impress people, things I do to impress others etc. Your post made me think of all such moments, the deep-set insecurities and fears that I have as an individual.
    But I have hope because of the last statement- “I’m pretty sure that whoever you want to impress will appreciate you just the way you are. I know I do.”

  • Well, I don’t think there are only 7 people reading this blog. I read it. So that’s an addition to those seven people.

  • It’s wonderful to have people who give you hope and make you think. One lives next door to me. Another wrote the post about “Just the way you are.” And a third interrupted the second’s daily life, inspiring them.

  • This was the first post I read this Monday morning and I felt very nice. Just very, very nice.

    The conversation you had with the woman, seemed so, so genuine so pure - even if you had met her for the first time, so devoid of the usual artificiality that it felt so, so nice.

    Thank you for being as honest as you are. :)

  • Love this story, Marc! Sometimes we (I) do try to impress, and it can be a nervous moment - not knowing how we’ll be perceived. And yet the truth is, we are who we are…deep down. And that doesn’t change…our core…

  • Wonderful post… I really, really enjoyed this one!

  • That made me smile.

  • Marc,
    We love you because you don’t take yourself seriously. We love you because you’re willing to reveal your vulnerable side - even if you have to do it disguised as a cat. That’s sexy from the inside out. That’s living life juicy!

  • Wow! You all are too kind. ;-)

    Thanks so much for the kind remarks. You’ve made my day already… and it’s only 9:19AM here in San Diego.

  • How can you two and your site not be amazing?

    It’s the most feel good site in the whole world.

  • Marc,

    I read your messages. I enjoyed this one because I’ve been thinking about honesty and truth myself. When I read things that are written from the heart I enjoy them the most.

    The people who are meant to read it will find out about you and your blog. I found out about your blog from one of our Toastmaster club members who posted a message of yours on facebook.

    Great job. Keep writing from you heart.

    :) Margaux

  • Wow, Marc! I’ve been reading for a while and this is probably the first time I have commented. I love your blog and this post sums up why. It’s real and you put your thoughts out there. When I first started blogging I was so worried about what I was saying and constantly edited myself. Once I started writing like “myself” more people came and I absolutely love what I do. Your blog is one of the few I stop to read at length because I know it will be good, it comes from the heart.

  • Hey Marc. I think a blog post can never lack a personal touch. Whether sharing a personal story, opinion or simply having personality in writing style. And when it comes to personal touch, I think yours are a lot better than many other, Marc. Which is why your articles are always pleasing to read.

  • This post was so real and raw. I loved it!

  • I appreciate you too.

  • Make that 8 people. I read you too. :-)

  • You are read by more than “7 people”. I am a counselor. Many times I use your blog writings as an education in my groups. They are constantly bombarded by ill will and judgemental information on how not to be an “addict” or a “bad person” or “irresponsible”. Many of your short stories allow them to know they are more “normal” and human than they thought.

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Can’t remember exactly how I stumbled on to you a couple of months ago, but blessed am I that I did.

    Thanks Mr, I love what you say and your unique touch in expressing it. It is a gift.


  • Hi Marc,

    I’m an avid follower of your blog…

    Whatever you write, it always inspires me.


  • I was grinning through this whole post. Projecting your self through the written medium is an enormous task.

    When do we ever know enough about a person? The longevity of some marriages is proof of that. It’s the vibe, not the words, the presence, not the voice.

    I write specifically to this theme at justbeandyouare.

  • This is the first blog post I’ve read at this site - just stumbled upon it - and I like you already! I think it’s getting more and more difficult to stand out in the blogging world. You definitely made an impression. Thanks.

  • WOW…what a brilliant and moving post! This was fantastic and just wanted to say, excellent job! Thank you for the great read!


  • hey marc!!

    such an awwwwsome story :) hahaha.

    that feeling - that feeling when somebody comes up to you or you see them getting value outta something you do - it’s indescribable. i used to have a clothing line and i’ll never ever forget the first time i saw somebody in the street wearing something i had made. was magic feeling.

    can’t wait till i get all big like marcandangel and get random hot girls coming up to me about my blog. newfound motivation actually :) haha

    really loved the way you ended the story. so touching and prophetic and warm. more than anything - cool to hear the way you responded to her questions.


    keep well mate
    alex - unleash reality

  • I read you too! 7 people is an underestimation, haha

  • read it …loved it….lol

  • Nice Marc and Angel, what a great blog post! Cheered me up to no end :) what a great story::))))


  • Excellent post! Thanks for the honesty.

  • That’s a great example of honesty! I really admire your thoughts on life. This exchange seemed so real and transparent.

    Stay inspired and motivated!


  • Great post. We are what we are. That’s all we can be… happily anyway.

    Thanks for the great delivery of that message.

  • Thanks for the post, and the website as a whole really. Every article I have read on this site has been well written and powerful. Keep up the good work, you guys don’t know the effect you have on the readers of this site.

  • This is the first time I’ve ever visited your blog and I’ve enjoyed every article I’ve read thus far. I’m a “Google junkie” so that’s how I stumbled across your site… I was initially searching for some inspirational words for a friend who has basically given up on life and lost all faith in the world generally. They claim they are living for today only… that’s often a good thing for some people but not in this case. My friend has lost all regard for the feelings and emotions of others, all they seem concerned about is their own happiness which truthfully in the end cannot fully be achieved of they carry on like this. I’ve tried all means to get through to them, all to no avail… I’m hoping to find a solution before they completely shut me out or even worst push me away.
    Your article “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind” has really made me think and I hope that by sharing this with my friend ,they as well will appreciate it and rethink their current life style choices.

    I love your honest and I appreciate that you are willing to share so much with us ( I write as well but I guess due to the fear of being judge sometimes, I keep it to my self :)
    You are truly an inspiration to me now. I look forward to reading a lot more from you. Thanx!

    Much Love

  • I think ALL of us are like that, one way or another. Everyone wants to be accepted or appreciated to a certain level, and denying that need to be appreciated or loved is just plain bull. Man is just a social animal, and his environment and the people around him will ALWAYS have an impact. I don’t blame you for any of those things you said you do, Marc. You’re just being human…

  • Yep. She’s indeed true. I always can relate to any of your posts. It’s like ‘You speak my mind’.

  • I accidentally ran across your blog. I LOVE it!! I’m addicted to it! Thank you for all you write

  • This short story is too good! :)

  • wow I just love you guys. You are so authentic. People are so fake in this world. Its refreshin to see honest people like you. Honest in thoughts, in wrong and right. Thanks

  • Hi Marc,
    My name is Kobby, since i discovered your site it has really added value to my life… it has changed the way I think and lot of fear has gone outer of my life. Thanks for making me feel real as a human being.

  • Claire Alejandro
    August 14th, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Hi Marc, I’m Claire - a teen from Philippines. I accidentally saw your blog and then I was instantly addicted to it. I love reading your masterpieces. Your writings are such a good inspiration! Keep it up! And i have to say thanks! Because you are already giving my life direction:)

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