I wrote my first blog post, Be Yourself; Everyone Else is Already Taken, on October 4 last year. I can’t believe it’s been close to a year, and today I want to get back to the roots of sorry I’M NOT WHO YOU THOUGHT I was and to the essence of that first post. I wrote, “We all make conscious and subconscious decisions about what we reveal to people and what we hide. Many of us are scared to be ourselves and rightfully so; we’re a judgmental lot.”
It’s been quite a year of hiding things, but it seems the tide is turning. We are fed up with lies and cover-ups, and what were previously tolerated as passable excuses are no longer acceptable.
In August it was confirmed that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, which included seven Tour de France wins that he’s now been stripped of. He fought the charges for years, saying there was no evidence, but finally gave up the fight and essentially confessed by quitting. One of Armstrong’s defenses was that by doping he was just leveling the playing field—every rider who finished second to Lance in the Tours has been connected to doping—yet he was (unfairly) given hero status for his supposedly “clean” performance, and their “lesser” performances were judged against his.
It’s unfortunate, but we judge ourselves by the people around us, using external factors for our benchmarks. The playing field is not level, nor will it ever be. Some are more athletically inclined and others possess musical aptitude. We have left brain people and right brain people. Some people are born rich, while others are born poor. The comparison and differentiations are endless and ongoing.
One of the biggest conceals of the year is still unfinished: Mitt Romney hiding his tax returns. Even Republicans have called Romney arrogant for not disclosing. Ron Paul, former Republican candidate, said, “Politically, I think it would help him…In the scheme of things, politically, you know, it looks like releasing tax returns is what people want.” People want truth. In general we are more forgiving of sins if we don’t feel we’re being lied to, and in many cases the lie, cheat or steal is worse than the actual offense.
Ana Navarro, former advisor to John McCain, said, “He should just release the stupid taxes and eliminate the Obama campaign tactic of insinuating he’s got something to hide.” I don’t want to speak for the Obama campaign, but insinuate seems like a light word for this. The question is no longer does Mitt Romney have something to hide, but what is Mitt Romney hiding. We already know he’s rich, but what the people want to know is what tactics he’s using to make himself richer.
It’s kind of like people saying their hair is “just lightened by the sun,” or claiming to have year-round golden tans when in reality they get their color through sprays and bulbs. The proof is in the pudding though, and the truth is eventually revealed. I often have massage clients who are there to receive their first massage. Some come right out with it, “I’m so excited! I’ve never had a professional massage!” while others seem embarrassed to confess. I always ask the usual questions—Any accidents or injuries you’d like to tell me about? Any areas you’d like to focus on? Anything you particularly like or dislike about massage?—and I usually get a lot of information to make the massage better for both of us. If I feel the client isn’t sure what to say or is looking for the “right” answer I ask another question, “How long has it been since your last massage?”
The answers are telling. Some say that it’s been a year or three months, and others are vague, telling me “it’s been awhile.” It’s amazing how difficult it can be for someone to say, “I’ve never had a massage.” It’s as if they’re embarrassed to admit that they’ve never had one, but if they told me that right away I’d have walked them through a typical session and told them that the time on the massage table should be controlled by them, not me, and that we can make modifications to make the session more comfortable and beneficial.
Sometimes people are so nervous and embarrassed by their not-so-big secret of never having a massage that they barely listen to my shtick, and are more focused on their lie than on what I’m saying. They panic when I leave the room and tell them to “Get undressed to your level of comfort and start face down in between the sheets.”
“I didn’t listen! Do I leave my underwear on? Take it off? Do I get under the blanket? The sheet?” I’ve returned a couple of minutes later to find people in their underpants on top of the sheets, people wrapped in the sheet like they’re in a doctor’s office and sometimes a fully dressed person standing in the room waiting for the next instruction. Then they say, “Um, I’ve actually never done this before….”
Why wait? Why go through the turmoil of not just telling the truth? Why are we so dang embarrassed to admit what we don’t know?
Mitt does not know how America will react to the information in his tax returns, but he’s finally realized that it’s imperative he release them. According to the The New York Times Mitt and Ann Romney filed their 2011 tax returns this morning, and this afternoon the return will be posted online. According to the Romney Campaign, “Also posted will be a notarized letter from the Romneys’ tax preparer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PWC), giving a summary of tax rates from the Romneys’ tax returns for the 20-year period of 1990-2009.”
Does Mitt get a pat on the back for doing something he should have done months ago? Probably not. The findings are likely to create a larger gap between him and the average, middle-class Americans and further generate anger that he waited so long.
I don’t want this blog to become politically slanted one way or another—that is not the purpose. The purpose is to think about where we place ourselves in the world, and the decisions we make about how we present ourselves. It’s about what we choose to reveal, and what we choose to conceal. It’s about choice.
Undies on or undies off—it really just doesn’t matter. What matters is telling the truth, being forthright, and not having anything to hide.
A quote has been floating around the Internet lately that hasn’t been attributed to anyone (that I know of) but I think it makes good sense:
“Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you no one would believe it.”