The phone rang. I still have a land line, though callers on that line other than political, nonprofit, and home remodeling solicitors are few. So I check the caller ID before I pick up. And this is what I saw:
I was literally rolling on the floor laughing. How transparent! I didn’t pick it up (hmm, did I really need to clarify that point?). The machine did, promptly recording a message about the super low interest rate I could receive on my credit card if I’d just call promptly. I wondered how this happened. What company lists it’s business name as “phone scam”? Really?!?
The more I pondered, however, the more impressed I became. How freeing, to be able to be completely honest about who you are. Moving through life, how often do we truly embrace this concept? It’s a socially-accepted construct to put our best self forward. Everyone wants to look like they’re breezing through life, no problems, loving their lives, ever-confident. Sounds like another version of pretending to be superman/woman to me.
It takes so much energy to hold up that mask. Exhausting after awhile. It also distances us from each other. We back off on sharing trials, angst-ridden moments, frustrations, fearing that we will look weak. Certainly we are the only ones stumbling, since no one else talks about it. Must be we are deficient. The problem seems our ability to excel–not the less-than-honest story-telling.
When I turned 50, the impact of having lived half a century felt heavy. I no longer wanted to put on a front, hiding my true self. And I ran with the sudden impulse to present myself as I am. Some friends drifted away, confused looks on their faces as I spoke up in matter-of-fact ways they’d never witnessed. Some activities I let slide. I got pretty good at saying “I don’t know” and “I’m sorry, I screwed up” and “I disagree” and “Please don’t treat me that way.” I started honestly living my full warty self.
I’m human. I make mistakes. I’m good at many things and lousy at others. Being honest about who I am is freeing, and while difficult at first, appears to take less energy eventually, leaving more for creating the life I want to live. Proclaiming the equivalent of “phone scam” in my own life is not a single event, however. It’s a step down the path to living the right life. This step for me was important ground work for growth, for embracing self-compassion, for building a life infused with joy.