What Mel Did
What Mel Did - Brick House Bread, Borough Market, London

Sincerity is subject to proof

Proofing, also known as proving, is the final rise of shaped bread dough before baking.

When I was younger and idealistic, I took exception to something one of my first bosses told me. He said, “Sincerity is always subject to proof.”

I objected to the calculating and cold nature in which this man managed his relationships – business and otherwise – and my inference that day was he doubted my loyalty. A doubt which pissed me off given the sacrifices and sheer hard work I had meted out for this man.

The context, the upset if you will, was that I was dating, if not my boss’s competitor, someone who had the smarts to become his competitor if he so chose. He didn’t choose, because we had a love match which had nothing to do with business.

That day, my boss and I talked long past my going home time – me failing to convince him that a life without basic faith in human nature was a miserly and miserable way to navigate life.

Years on, I have had many occasions to recall that conversation, not least when someone I trusted swindled me. That was a blow which took my breath away.

After the tears and recriminations died down, I did face up to the question: “Where was the proof this person deserved your trust and money? The proof that this person could do what they said they could do?”

So, yes, we can have faith in our fellow human beings, however, I do now believe that eschewing blind faith for faith based on proven past performance is a valid if less romantic option. Looks like my old boss was onto something after all.

This is not to say when I meet someone I automatically distrust them. No, but I am cautious and my filters are open to anything that seems a little off. Hard knocks will do that to you.

Once blindly optimistic, there is another edict I live by – opined by the late and great Maya Angelou:

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

It could be I like this because there is less of a burden of proof on my part, an active seeking out of good or ill in human nature. This way I need only wait for human nature to reveal itself to me.


  • My favourite Maya line is in a post written by one of my favourite writers. Win. Trust is a hard thing. I tend to go into it blindly and 100%.

    • I get that. Maybe our perspective also changes when we have children. I had to work hard at letting mine have a happy, free childhood without banging on about the bogeymen waiting around the corner for an opportunity to get them.

  • There’s probably a middle ground. You can trust someone to be who they say they are without giving them any control over your well being, money, or happiness, until you have proof. You can have very good and close friends but also a policy of not handing over your happiness, money, etc… to anyone. This attitude is probably why I’m not a successful investor or married so it has its faults too.

    • My mother-in-law is very nostalgic for the days when you ‘could trust everyone.’ Not sure I’d go quite that far, but I am now a long way from that young, idealistic young woman and more towards my former boss’s end of the spectrum. Life, eh?