Will the Real So-and-So Please Step Forward?

Last week I received an invitation that I sat on for a few days before responding to. There were a couple of reasons why I wasn't quick to offer a "yes," but when it came down to it,  finances was chief among them. Finally, it occurred to me that--rather than cite other reasons and then have to come up with *other* other reasons the next time around (as this was already the second such dinner I'd opted out of)--I'd just come clean.

I Replied All (nooooooooooooooo) to the original invite email with the simple (if wordy...it's me we're talking about here) request that people not take it personally if I don't attend these dinners for the foreseeable future as, in my current focus on paying off debt, spendy sit-down dinners were not in my budget.

I took in a little breath before hitting the "send" button (I am still pretty new to my current location and this was something of a naked confession) but for the most part I felt good about sending the email. As I stated in the message I wrote, it's always my preference to be honest about things and (as this blog clearly demonstrates) I don't mind people knowing my business.

A few people reacted with surprise to the email and assured me it was not necessary for me to be so revealing, which got me thinking about the concepts of "my business"/"personal business."

There was a time in my life during which I felt like a was one version of myself in some scenarios and another version in others. Actually, I still feel that way at times. The way I experience it now is not necessarily negative. I'm reminded of the Walt Whitman quote "Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself (I am large, I contain multitudes)." I have a lot of thoughts and reactions going on in my brain and every "version" of myself reveals another part of who I am. They are all the real me. But that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about living through a period of my life where I felt strongly the desire to hide or even bury/destroy/erase parts of myself. I tried so hard to kill off these parts that when one of them surfaced (for example, I laughed at something I felt some people would not approve of my laughing at) I felt overwhelming guilt and a sense of failure. I was failing at pretending to be somebody I wasn't. And as profound as my desire was, I could not get myself to buy the lie I was selling.

With some distance and perspective, I came to realize that I no longer wanted to hide parts of myself (except, you know, my actual physical parts. This is not a blog about the journey to Nudism). I no longer wanted to sign up for any kind of friendship or activity that would require that of me. 

This went for work as well. I didn't want there to be a version of me meant for work and one meant for real life. I mean yes, of course to some extent we ALWAYS have to keep some thoughts or the more colorful descriptive words that come to mind to ourselves if we want to remain employed, but my word! I spend 45 hours of every week in that location, surrounded by the same coworkers. I don't want that much of my life to be passed in the dazed, semi-human state that is a person trying to fake it.

Ok, let me just disclaim a bit to say I understand people in management roles need to keep up a level of professionalism and should probably not blur too many lines with their employees, but I also appreciate that both my bosses reveal their senses of humor openly and celebrate with us openly as well. Neither pretends to hail from some sub-category of humans better suited to rule and immune to the desire for camaraderie, conviviality, co-conspiracy even (within audit compliance, of course).

Life is simply too short, the portion of it spent at work too great, to be any other way.

And it's more than that. It's more than just the desire to be open and have fun at work. That's pretty easy. I've finally realized it also turns out to be not as difficult as I'd imagined (once over the initial fear of it) to let my faults show freely as well. I shared with my coworkers that a nice dinner wasn't in my budget because the thought of being honest about the things that aren't perfect in my life no longer embarrasses me. I was never trying to pretend anything else was the case. It's okay with me if everyone knows that about me because trying to pull off any other version of reality sounds exhausting and stressful, and to what end?

How liberating it feels be to my authentic self, even while sporting the synthetic fabrics of my uniform.

I don't want to have anything to hide. I don't want to be terrified of a chink in the armor. The armor is heavy. It's unwieldy and unflattering and I couldn't even dance in it anyway. 

No comments:

Post a Comment