Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bare Spots

By Julie Rahm

Hurricane Irene trashed our landscaping. Water from the creek uprooted then swept away our shrubs, small trees and pine straw. For a few hours, we really had property on the water or rather, in the water! When the water did recede, our yard resembled a trench warfare scene from World War I. Everything was scoured and stripped bare. We’ve spent hours hauling fill and mulch back onto the yard to cover the bare spots. The yard cover up has been a huge effort. As we neared completion, it occurred to me people also expend a lot of effort covering up their own bare spots. Similar to us covering the bare spots in our yard, some people go to great lengths to cover their own shortcomings.

Why are some so concerned about their shortcomings? Do they have a fear of being judged? Will we like them less if we know them more? Some people practice image control as a hobby. I once had a client who wanted desperately to have her own business. The community had a need for what she wanted to offer. I had no doubt her business would be an overwhelming success. However, her fear of being judged caused her to constantly lie about how well the business was going. She never could catch up with her stories. The energy she expended on image stifled her creativity and initiative. Even though her business seemed destined to be successful, her fear of failure kept her merely limping along. The root of her concern was the inevitable criticism from her family should she fail at her new business. It was sad to see a vibrant and intelligent entrepreneur stuck in the status quo.

How often do we fail to make our relationships better because we’re worried about exposing our “bare spots”? Especially during the early part of any relationship there is marketing. Bare spots are definitely covered up. Everyone puts their best foot forward in order to woo a perspective mate. And then it’s difficult to meet expectations later. I credit the success of my marriage to John with not having those first six months or so of good behavior. We met at work during a meeting when neither of us was looking for a relationship. The mother of all arguments ensued between us and in front of everyone. I not only won the argument, but also earned a new nickname, the Blond Pitbull. So when John asked me to dinner the following year I had a sudden thought that maybe a relationship between us could work. The opportunity for marketing ourselves to each other had long since passed. And yet he still wanted to have dinner with me, “bare spots” and all.

The next time you find yourself masking your “bare spots”, take a moment for self-reflection. It takes a lot of energy to be something you’re not. And who you are may be exactly perfect for the situation at hand.

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