Lately, I’ve been trying to be as super-vulnerable as possible, even if it looks inelegant and clumsy. Even unprofessional or unkempt. Even if it looks sort of crazy.
I don’t mean over-sharing or crossing boundaries or being silly for the sake of appearing relatable. I mean just saying exactly what’s going on inside. Every neurotic little twitch and concern. Every fear and hope and held-back giggle. What my needs are. All the conflicting emotions and motives. The whole mess of it, the gritty weird details down to the inner guts.
Sometimes in the middle of talking, I’ve been backing up and saying, “Actually, I didn’t mean that. I just said it because I was processing out loud and I sort of winged it right then. Or maybe I was trying to impress you. I really don’t know anything about what I just said.” I’ve been catching myself when I know I’m about to exaggerate or cover up. I’ve been rewinding myself when I might have said something sketchy or incomplete or disingenuous.
None of this is as romantic as it sounds. It feels like weakness and it’s painful. It’s a turn-off for most people when we’re this raw and naked. It’s also frustrating because everyone says they want this, but the second you try, you get burned badly with a door shut in your face. Authenticity is such a buzzword these days and we talk about being “true to yourself” and “real” all the time, but I’ve learned that most of us only accept a version of acceptability until it becomes inconvenient or annoying. Maybe we’re so used to maintaining a photoshopped exhibitionism that actual, sleeves-up honesty is frightening. We like the sound of realness until we’re actually there, and then we start calling that person a dork or a hipster or a show-off or “he been reading too many of them self-help pamphlets.”
It’s hard. It’s difficult to lower our guard and to be our slobbery, sloppy selves, at the risk of getting fired or looking incompetent or saying with aplomb, “I don’t know what’s happening right now and I’ve been making some of this up as I went along.”
But it’s exhausting to do all those loops of lies. I get tired of flexing fake strength all the time. I just want to say I’m scared sometimes. I want to say my heart is beating pretty fast and I might need you to come pick me up, and I don’t mean to be defensive but please let me explain the conflict inside before you judge me, because I do feel judged, and yes, it does hurt a little bit, and I’ve been losing sleep about some of these things, and I need your encouragement and a high-five and maybe some coffee right now.
I’m hoping you’d know me as I really am, is all.