The only way to truly connect with people is to be authentic. To be authentic requires vulnerability; to be who you really are.
I saw this plainly a few months ago…
A friend of mine who is in the entertainment industry threw a party. She’s an actress and the room was filled with lots of her actor and actress friends. It was everything you’d expect from a Hollywood shindig. Beautiful people, glamorous outfits, make-up, the most professional looking selfies I’ve ever seen and phrases being tossed around like “omg we HAVE TO do lunch”.
I sat with a friend observing and discussing how fake it all felt. Yet, I could not help but seeing how familiar it was. All of these Hollywood hopefuls were at work, networking with the hopes that one conversation could lead to their big break. And that’s when I realized that my own work environment was not all too different.
On a day-to-day basis, actors put themselves in front of casting directors ready to be judged based on what they physically portray. More times than not, they are rejected and the reasons are many: too thick, too thin, too short, too tan, too pale, etc. If you define yourself based on how you look, this rejection can breed some serious identity issues.
In my 9 to 5 desk job, people are judged on another set of defining qualities, their intellect and ideas. To succeed, you must have a voice at the table and attempt to push your agenda through. But you have to be prepared to have those ideas shot down or die in a web of corporate politics. If you define yourself based on your ideas or intellect, be prepared to struggle when the group doesn’t like your idea.
The fear of having your identity rejected builds walls. When walls are up, real connect cannot exist. The 9 to 5 version of these are empty conversations about the weather by the water cooler and jargon filled meetings about TPS reports. And I’m sure any other industry has their version.
So this is a reminder as much to myself as it is to anybody else. If you crave a real connection, be real. To be real, have the courage to be honest. And to be honest with anyone else, you must first start by being honest with yourself.
“Know Thyself” – Socrates