I am a student at Yale. Well, I mean, I took a class at Yale! I feel like I should stop there. That’s by far the most impressive version of this story, but if you know me, you probably realize there just has to be more to the story. So I’ll come clean.
It was a course offered online, and as long as you paid the $50 fee, you were good. Yale would never look twice at me otherwise. But presented in just the right manner, with just enough information included and just enough information withheld, it sounds pretty impressive.
The same holds true for most things. I could also tell you that at midnight on my 50th birthday, I was hanging out with six police officers in a parking lot. If I stop there you might be imagining some form of debauchery or a wild party being broken up by law enforcement.
If I include the facts that I had filed a missing persons report and was taking possession of an Alzheimer's patient who had wandered off in the night, it turns a little pathetic and a lot sad.
The other week, Paul was out of town, and I found a snake. I told him that I took care of it - which I did. I also told him I thought it was a copperhead because of the markings I saw - which I did. He was deeply impressed. The parts I didn’t tell him was that it was only slightly larger than a giant earthworm, and it was dead when I found it.
Presentation is Everything. We find people dressing up the truth a lot, especially on social media. Everyone wants to compare themselves to others, and they want to come out on top in the comparison. Maybe that’s why we always worry about how we look, what we wear, and why we’re not willing to do anything outside of our comfort zone. It’s all about how we present ourselves.
Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, said that if you ask a group of kids how many of them are dancers, they’ll all raise their hands. Ask a group of adults the same question, and only one or two will raise their hands. We become panic-stricken with what people might think of us.
As I’ve already confessed, the presentation we see is not always accurate. In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about being authentic and vulnerable. These are admirable qualities, but they are also difficult and scary. What if I’m not ready to give others ammunition to tease me or make fun of me? But what if I stop taking myself so seriously; what if I realize how scared we ALL are, and I show up anyway as nothing but myself. Maybe it will make it easier for one other person to do the same. And isn’t that how big change occurs? One small act of bravery at a time?