I talked to an acquaintance at a gathering about what he did for a living. He said he liked his job but not the office politics. Then, he started talking about a hiking trip he took and his entire being changed. He stood up straighter, held eye contact and got animated. I wondered what kept him from approaching his work like his hiking trip. I could definitely relate because I’ve held positions where I liked the work I did but not the atmosphere, or my co-workers, or the company culture. Sometimes, I even felt like a fraud because I knew I wasn’t being myself. Often, I was surrounded by frauds just like me.
What does it take to be authentic in all parts of our lives, not just in one place or another? What price do we pay when we’re one person at work, another on Facebook, another at church and yet another at home?
Are you smoking what you’re selling?
I read that line in a book and I started asking myself…
Are you living the way you think other people should live? Do you eat your own cooking? Or do you wish other people would drop their pretenses while you wear a mask? Do you compare and despair? Would you give a stranger the shirt off your back but never show a stranger how desperately you need a shirt of your own? Do you wish other people didn’t make it look easy as you sit back and say nothing about how hard it is? Or do you take a risk and give your opinion in hopes that you’ll encourage others to give theirs? Do you leave a penny in the penny tray? Do you make the first move? Do you say you’re sorry first? Do you make yourself vulnerable? Do you walk the path you ask others to walk? Do you live your truth and seek out the truth of others?
I think most people stay true to themselves in some areas of their lives but struggle in others. We have to set boundaries because not everyone earns the right to know all about us, especially in the workplace. But walls and boundaries are different. For me, not having walls means not judging, not gossiping and being genuinely interested in what others have to say, even if I don’t agree with them. It means respectfully sharing my opinion and not falling for peer pressure regardless of who I’m interacting with. It’s about resisting the urge to be perceived one way when I know in my heart it’s not really me.
I was struck hard today by a sense that life is too short to succumb to the pressure of perceived ridicule. I wasted so much time in situations and jobs where I found excuses to not give my all because I wasn’t confident in my convictions. I wanted to fit in more than I wanted to work for change. We risk a lot when we become the change we want to see but the reward is an authenticity that bridges all parts of our lives.
P.S. The book was Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell.