The BS Files are kinda like the X-files – full of myths and urban legends and mysterious things. I feel that it is my duty to tackle them (occasionally). Because, you know, the truth is out there.
Case #17. You can hide who you are. Bullsh*t!
For years I thought that I could hide parts of who I am. Like, decades. I honestly thought that it was a strategy that worked. And you know, whenever anyone says “honestly” it means that they are probably being anything but honest.
Here’s the thing – you may actually be able to hide parts of who you are from some people, but that doesn’t mean it works. It can go wrong in so many ways, and that’s why it’s bullshit.
Let’s play with some scenarios in which it all goes wrong:
The first and most obvious scenario is that you think you are fooling people, but you aren’t. So you just look like a hypocrite, a poser, inauthentic, delusional, silly, ridiculous or deceptive. It all depends upon who is looking at you and what kind of motives they attribute to you.
The second scenario is that you fool some of the people some of the time, but of course you are eventually discovered. Pretty much the same results as above.
A third scenario is that you are depriving the world of who you are. You are so afraid of judgment and the consequences (real or imaginary) that you hide some of your light under a bushel (whatever that is). You somehow think that you have to hide anything that isn’t a perfect Instagram shot. You ultimately end up judging yourself more than anyone else ever would – and you hold yourself apart because of it. It’s lonely.
The fourth scenario is that you live your life in the closet. You are hiding who you really are because you are hiding part of you. You are living a life full of secrets. And it’s complicated. You play many roles, because you have to pretend to be something that you are not. Hiding who you are is exhausting. You’re afraid you’re gonna forget who you are in different scenarios, let your real self slip and someone is gonna see you in your proverbial underwear. (Is there a proverb about underwear?)
Look, hiding who you are means keeping secrets. Secrets make you sick. Addicts know about secrets. Secrets are lies. It’s pretty hard to be authentic, to be your best and highest self if you are lying about who you are.
I hope it’s obvious, but if not, I’ll spell it out. You don’t always have to flaunt all the parts of you, making a major announcements and declarations. Most people aren’t all that interested anyway. But just letting something be, letting it rise up when it’s called forth and sit back when it isn’t – that’s not hiding. That’s actually more like being comfortable in your own skin.
By the way, you don’t have to be hiding something big. It doesn’t have to be bigamy, or criminal activity or secret identity. It can be something small. It can be a weakness, your beliefs, your fears, small things that make you different, your style. Maybe you hide a skill or ability because you don’t want to be compared.
I hid lots of little things. I hid my past. I hid my age. I hid my feminine leadership behind masculine-style leadership. I kept my spirituality in a box. I kept my “professional” Maggie completely separate from the real Maggie. Or I thought I did. Mostly I just kept myself separate from a lot of people.
Yes, there are real times when it is safer to keep something to yourself – I’m not talking about those, they are the exception. I’m talking about the times where we make it a consistent practice and we are fooling ourselves.
Truth: Hiding who we are is a lot of wasted effort. It just doesn’t work.
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
Love and light,
If you’re interested in using Color Thinking for your own leadership development program, let’s talk. I invite you to schedule a call if you’d like to chat about it. Or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org