Monday, February 3, 2014
Putting Your Realest Foot Forward
It meant they'd see all the flaws.
It's scary letting new friends into our lives, isn't it?
Because what if we show them who we are and they decide they don't like us? What if they see our vulnerable little underbellies and decide to run?
As I busied myself dusting and mopping and hiding papers and clutter in unsuspecting cupboards, I kept getting hung up on a particular piece of damaged furniture in our living room. The leather chair in the corner has two circular "burn" marks on one arm. Not from a wild night of smoking. From a time I propped the running vacuum on the arm while I tried to suck a cobweb down from the ceiling of our old house. The spinning brush burned the faux leather right off it.
I wanted to hide it from my houseguests.
I draped a blanket over the arm of the chair, trying to make it look casually intentional.
And then it occurred to me that I'd have to drape that blanket every time my new friends came over.
Hiding a flaw once can quickly lead to hiding that flaw indefinitely.
And who wants to do that? The thought of it immediately exhausted me. So, although I was afraid of being judged for my shabby chair, I decided it would be better to just put it out there and risk the embarrassment and shame.
The people who make us feel bad like that aren't the people we should be spending our time with, anyway.
I left the chair's scar visible and made my peace with the other imperfections around my home.
What happened may or may not have had anything to do with my decision. It may have had everything to do with the pure delightfulness of my new friends. But as we sat around my coffee table, drinking wine and eating crackers and goat cheese-pesto dip, we all started revealing vulnerabilities. We traded fears and pointed out things that make us feel like others are looking at us with a critical eye. We talked about how hard it is when you speak up in a room full of people—taking a chance on something that feels scary to say—and no one reassures you. Perhaps because they're terrified of not seeming perfect.
It was a great night and I was so thankful that I left my chair uncovered.
Being real might just be the fastest way to connect with the people who'll appreciate the real you.