Performance Anxiety

“You know, your blog doesn’t tell people who you are.”

She said it over the phone, but I could tell she was looking me straight in the eye; a knowing look that, if I was sitting before her, would have communicated to me a profound assertion.

I let it soak in for a second.

“How is that possible? The stuff I write is from the heart!”

“Do you edit it?”

“Yes.”

Does it have a beginning, a middle and a natural ending?”

“Yes.”

That proves that it’s not really you writing; it’s you preparing a thought, communicating a concept- it shows your passions and values but it is not completely organic, therefore not totally transparent. It is performance, polished for people to see only what you want them to see.”

Oh Oh.

“I’m not some phony…” I stammer.  She interrupts me.

“I didn’t say you were.  You are not phony at all, that’s not the point! You are an authentic person, your writing has no doubt helped a lot of people, and it is genuine in passion- but it is not completely YOU.”

“Why?”

She paused. “You have to pick some people who are important to you, and then let ’em in. Let ’em see the real you, the you I think I know but you are afraid to show to most of the people in your life.”

“How do I do that? Do I walk up to them and say, ‘You know, Joe Blow, I have ( for example) some angst about my childhood that’s bugging me.’ How is that letting people in?”

Her tone becomes slightly more earnest. “Ask them a question. Ask them to help you solve a problem. Letting people in simply means making them aware of the things that are on your mind.”

I speak the next sentence so softly it’s just a notch above a whisper. “There is one person who knows everything, every last detail, every secret…”

“That means you were finally ready to tell someone.” She seems so confident, like this is an obvious answer to her.

“The person who likes us just the way we are, and likes us for our potential, and does not judge us for the completely human mistakes we have made, is the right person for all of us. You have to let a few folks see all of you, for only then will you be sure who your real friends are.”

 

******************************** 

I will bet you a dollar  that Anthony Robbins, that infomercial/book/hotel ballroom/B-level celebrity guru, could very well be in real life, a narcissistic, self-aborbed jerk. I cannot and will not claim this is a fact, but it’s certainly possible, given the Messianic aura of his performances on television and online. Has he helped people? Maybe. Does he want us to awaken from our emotional slumber and get out there and kick some tail? It seems so. This Anthony Robbins, he with his lack of formal education and his two wives and a lawsuit or two he’s had to fight over the years, his uneven portfolio.  I’m not a Tony Robbins kind of guy, but just because he is “normal” doesn’t mean his message cannot resonate, and help people in the way they want to be helped. Just because you tell people to get off their cans and get it together, doesn’t mean that you are impervious to judgement about your own behaviors.

The obvious answer came to me. There is only one “guy” in the universe who has zero baggage, zero issues, no regrets and absolutely nothing to ever be ashamed of- God.

The rest of us are, (using this explosive noun generically), sinners- in thought and deed. We are perfectly imperfect, flawed, weak at times. We are unsure, insecure, phony, a facade, a person troubled and addled with our stuff. We tell little and sometimes big lies, we obfuscate, we stall and present the most reasonable version of ourselves possible- because that’s what normal humans do. That doesn’t mean we are not worthy of unconditional love. The good news about all of us? We are also wonderful, thoughtful, kind, sweet, generous, and incredible. Most of us are 80% great, and only 20% not so great.

We polish our online persona because it is absolutely impossible to be completely honest here. After all, potential employers and business associates likely comprise our list of “friends”.  I wrote a piece on this last year.  The Wall we construct on our walls and profiles can be indeed authentic, but it doesn’t seem to have much to do with the real, vulnerable, normal us.

I think I might test the waters with a few real friends and see if they just like me for me. If I allow it, I should be open to the notion that I might be…relieved.

 

 

 

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