I’m in the middle of a book called “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” and it’s about a therapist who in turn, goes to therapy.
In one section she mentions the reactions she gets from others when she says that she is a therapist and why people seem uncomfortable when they find out.
It boils down to fear — of being exposed, of being found out.
Will you spot the insecurities that I’m so skillful at hiding?
Will you see my vulnerabilities, my lies, my shame?
Will you see the human in my being?
Here’s the thing, no matter how poised or confident, how strong, how brave, how silly, how anything we may seem to be, we are, at the bottom of it all, human. We are all dealing with a rat king of feelings and emotions and trauma and we are all trying to conceal it enough that we don’t scare other people.
We don’t want to be the guy in Wal-Mart talking to himself while walking down the cereal aisle. We don’t want to be noticed for our brokenness, our sadness, or our fears. We want to seem like we have it all, or part of it all, together.
I caught myself in a stupid lie the other day. I was talking to a guy that I am interested in and he mentioned that I had followed someone on twitter that he knew and I pretended that that person had just been recommended to me and that I hadn’t just followed them because I wanted to learn more about him. A few minutes later I looked at him and said, “I lied about that. I don’t know why.”
It seemed so innocent but it made me question myself because I have been working on becoming the type of person who doesn’t hide how I feel or what my intentions are. I’m working on letting people see the human in my being (to quote Lori Gottlieb) and I don’t know why my first instinct is still to cover up parts of me that show vulnerabilities. I mean, I know WHY, but being vulnerable is something that is really important to me and something that I strive for. It’s like what I learned in law school, if a witness has a bias or past or something that’s going to make them vulnerable on the stand, you need to be the one to bring it up, don’t let opposing council be the one to show the jury what’s behind the curtain. When you present the weakness, instead of the opposition, you are able to shape how that weakness is perceived, which is a much stronger position than hiding it and hoping no one notices.
All of this is to say that I’m trying to be real. I want to present myself as I am and I want to be the one to show you, the reader, the world, that I have so much human in my being and I’m not ashamed of it.
The world would be a much softer place if we gave ourselves and the people around us permission to be scared, or sad, or lonely, or just going through a lot, without having to pretty it up or stuff it down. So maybe let’s try it, and maybe we’ll stick to it, and maybe we won’t make hazy lies to hide our humanness.