Oftentimes in life, when asked by people what others might think of us, we reply with something like,
“I’m an open book. If you want to know me, just look at me or be around me for an hour or two.”
While that’s an admirable – and mostly honest – statement, it’s not quite a true one. Think about it.
- When you share something on Facebook, is it a picture/update of how awesome your kids/husband/wife are, or is it “Shouted at the kids, felt like a bad parent for doing so, and don’t get me started on what my other half did yesterday!”?
- When you upload a picture to Instagram, is it the first one you take or is it the fortieth attempt at getting a smile just right, a background just so, a pet just in the right contortion to be cute?
- When you leave a comment on a blog, do you really say what you want to say, or is it a sanitized version of what you believe, because you don’t know the make-up of the other commenters?
These are just online examples. Offline, it’s the same.
How we present ourselves to our colleagues. How we approach a social setting. How we act in the privacy of our own homes versus how we behave under the gaze of the public.
While we might think that’s natural defense mechanism, the truth of the matter is it’s anything but natural.
Instead of being the open book we say we are, we’re an edited version of the story we want to tell.
We do this because we tell ourselves this is how people will like us. This is how people will gravitate towards us. This is how people will become our friends.
And they might – for a while. Until the covers are pulled back, and the shadows of your real life are on display for everyone to see.
Some may stick around. Others may not. But the choice is no longer yours to make. Now the story decides which characters are left to take part.
The irony is, if we don’t live in the shadows, to begin with, we’ll attract the people we truly deserve. The people who’ll be there when we need them.
The people we can truly call friends.
It’s not easy. You have to be focused, and brave, and ready to throw the covers back, even when it’s cold and dark outside.
But the reward and validation are worth it.
Try it sometime. You might just pleasantly surprise yourself.