When you seek out new opportunities, new challenges, or new growth in any area of your life, vulnerability follows. I think it’s some kind of unwritten rule.
It’s difficult whether you’re vying for a promotion or trying to find a new job. How many times will you have to sit through rote interviews with people less skilled and more casually dressed than you?
It’s daunting to test your parenting skills in front of grumpy, intolerant blue hairs in the middle of the cereal aisle at Kroger. Especially when your perfectly-behaved-at-home toddler turns into a combination of Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Damien from The Omen.
It’s terrifying to dress for a first date—something you haven’t done in the last twenty years and aren’t so sure you should be doing now. Are the multiple layers of make-up you applied masking those tiny lines by your eyes or making them into deeper trenches?
It’s stomach-churning to share your masterpiece for your first art show, concert, or book debut. Or maybe even just your first critique. For all you know your magnum opus could be the worst thing ever—or the best—that’s how blind you are to your own work. And you’re dying inside wanting other people to validate how you spend your energy and time.
And you’ve done this to yourself. You’ve put yourself out there for the world to judge. On purpose. Maybe in the name of personal growth. Or plain old desperation.
You showed up for the job interview. Took your toddler to the store. Agreed to that first date. Pulled your creation out of your head and presented it to others and asked them for an opinion.
What were you thinking?
Being examined, studied, or critiqued can feel like auditioning for a fashion show, posing naked under harsh lights on a runway, while judges study your body and make comments—all for your benefit, of course.
“Ah.” The tall, slim, manicured woman standing next to you touches your waist. “Just a nip here.” She glances at your thighs. “Some major lipo there.” She licks her finger and attempts to tame your spiky eyebrows. “And an hour’s worth of plucking and you’re good to go.”
The short man with the triple chin waiting below the stage taps the folds between chins number two and three and whines in a nasally voice. “What styling products do you use?” He rubs his bald head. “Because, you know, the luminescence is missing. Maybe if we hired you a professional stylist.”
“Umm,” says the short guy in the front row holding the clipboard with all your personal information—like your weight and height and underwear size. “Could you grow another inch? I’d say yes if you were taller.”
There are only so many things you can change about yourself. Some are possible. Some aren’t. And no matter how perfect you are, how hard you’ve brushed, styled, worked-out, practiced your walk and your words, and dressed for success for this audition, you’ve asked these people to make you better by finding your hidden faults.
And it hurts. A lot. Not only that, but letting anyone really see me naked would ruin not only my day, but my century. Yet, we put ourselves out there all the time. We make new friends, attend new churches, find new jobs, create and present our babies to the world—our art and our actual children. We ask others for their opinions. Sometimes daily.
Why do we stand naked on that runway? Why do we seek advice? Why do we paste a smile on the outside while we cringe inside—our hearts slowly deflating millimeter by millimeter when we don’t make the cut?
Because every once in a while, we actually learn something useful about ourselves, our work, our character. Sorting the good advice from the bad advice becomes the challenge.
But for now, lean back, relax and revel in your nakedness. Put yourself out there. Do something new. Ask for advice. Strive toward a better job or a better appreciation for the job you have. Work harder to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better friend, a better you. Take that masterpiece out of the closet and hand it off for critique.
Sometimes being naked is a good thing.
Leave a comment and let me know how you've put yourself out there recently.
And stay tuned for part two and three in this series--Sorting the Good from the Bad and Knowing When to Put Your Clothes Back On.