In my last blog, we explored pretension and how painful it can be to watch people operate as idealized versions of themselves.
Having recently jumped back into the dating pool, I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject of pretense. The online forums are filled with profiles of people trying to convey what they see as their most attractive qualities, in order to attract a certain kind of person. This is how the online game works.
The same kind of pretense plays out on Facebook. We count on people to tell us who they are based on their pictures and posts, and we naturally gravitate toward those whose values and beliefs appear to match our own.
For me, it was easy to get caught up in email exchanges with men who seemed to be smart, emotionally mature, spiritual, and funny. The problem was in meeting them. Reality felt like a letdown after what seemed to be an authentic, online connection.
For example, a potential love match arrived at our lunch date with a deck of tarot cards at the ready; eager to demonstrate why our connection was kismet. All I could do was sit there and wonder how I did not see this creepiness beforehand.
Upon reflection, it became clear that I didn’t see it coming because the person sitting across the table was not the same as his online persona! Simple as that; I had attached expectations to an idealized image of this person and, in reality, the character who showed up didn’t match my romanticized notion of him.
That’s when I had this life altering epiphany: I’ve been lying to myself for decades! Not intentionally or consciously, but lying nonetheless, and in a way that has wreaked havoc on my closest relationships, and even my business.
The truth is I become easily infatuated with future potential. And, inevitably, I feel disappointed when a person’s actions don’t always match up with my idealized notion of them.
This has caused me endless heartache, but even more troubling is how it has hurt others in my life. It explains why my son began to roll his eyes when I heaped praise on him as a child, and why my romantic partnerships have been destined to fail. Don’t we all want to be accepted for who we are right now, rather than for who we might someday be?
These are some questions I am now asking myself:
- Can I be brutally honest about who I am, warts and all?
- Can I see others in their current state and still accept them?
- Can I look at what’s necessary now, as if the future doesn’t exist?
- Can I see the truth of a matter and confront the discomfort?
I find it ironic how the masks we wear in order to attract others become obstacles to the liberation of our most authentic selves.
This awareness is sure to help me make wiser relationships choices and it applies equally well to business. In fact, when I shared my big epiphany with a few entrepreneurial friends, I was surprised to see lots of empathetic nodding.
We laughed at how entrepreneurs are notorious for living in a fantasy based upon potential success and notoriety, while ignoring daily realities like financial shortfalls or client red flags. When we do this, we’re not being honest with ourselves or others, which can erode trust with clients and colleagues just like it does in personal relationships.
In business and life, when we accept an idealized notion of someone as the truth, we set ourselves up for failure. Inevitably, the moment comes when their words and actions don’t match up, and we find ourselves baffled at having wasted time and energy building a relationship that was never authentic.
So, here I am… back to square one. I say my mission is truthfulness.
To live in truth means to let go of pretense, to remove the mask once and for all, and in doing so, to make it safe for others to show up honestly. This requires a willingness to be vulnerable, as well as a willingness to accept ourselves and others unconditionally.
It’s a tall order, perhaps even a whole lifetime’s work, but I think it’s the only way for true connection to occur.
One step at a time,