I have often had the experience where people get to know me and say “Wow, you’re pretty cool. You’re not what I thought you were like.” And I’m thinking “No because you judged me too quickly, you idiot.”
Have you had the experience where people judged you incorrectly? Have you had the experience of judging someone else and finding out later that you were wrong?
My buddy Tim suggested that perhaps I am complicit other people’s misjudgment of me. He asked me, “Why aren’t you showing them who you really are right from the start?” Good question Tim.
Let’s establish what it means to “show up as yourself”. We’re not talking about dumping an “about me” onto everyone you meet. We’re simply talking about acting on the outside, like the person you are on the inside. No phoniness, not putting on airs, not trying to be something.
Why would I show up as someone other than my full self? Here are some reasons I wasn't showing up as my authentic self.
- Assuming that people know who you are instantly. Though the simplest answer, this one rings the true for me. I just assume that people know me, and I don’t need to show my authentic self. Or perhaps I’m showing my authentic self 12 levels down, and they haven’t quite gotten there yet. My error is in assuming that people know things that I haven't told them, things that only exist inside my head.
- Defense mechanism. “I won’t show you my true self until I trust you.” While I totally understand the trust-creation process in meeting new people, hiding my true self wasn't protecting me. In fact, it will extend the time it takes to create trust.
- Conditioning. I have been told so many things about how I need to be, all these things constantly run through my head. It’s hard to be ourselves when we hear a soundtrack saying things like “speak up!”, “make sure you add value!”, “take charge!”, “be nice!”. It’s hard work to turn off this soundtrack and show up as yourself.
- Defiance. “I’m challenging you to see me incorrectly, and I’m going to make it really hard for you to see me for who I am.” It sounds so silly to say aloud, but it’s true. Sometimes I want to obscure who I am so that I can prove you wrong later. It’s like I’m reaffirming that people misjudge me.
Who do you show up as? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!