Sunday, February 10, 2013

Challenge - Day 10: "Close-up"

"Mr. Demille, I'm ready for my close-up," "up close and personal," "close-in," "Close to You," "closed for rennovations," I'm struggling with this topic; it was much more appropriate for a photo challenge than one for writing. 

When thinking about a close-up photograph, my immediate reaction is to pull back,  "No, not too close." Not close enough to see my flaws and imperfections. Not too close, or you might see some of the real me. We harbor the illusion that we can control what people see about us, that they see only what we want them to see. I do believe that, to some extent, this is true. It's part of my personality makeup. I see "knowing me" like a hand of cards. I hold all the cards and play them, one at a time, when I'm ready to reveal. Other people view this situation completely differently. They lay all their cards on the table and let you see everything about them, all at once. "You either take it or leave it, but this is who I am." Of course there a varying degrees in between, but most people tend overall to be one way or the other. 

The problems come when I encounter someone who is able to read my cards before I am ready to reveal them. It can be a very disarming experience because I have to admit (1) this person is more perceptive than I gave them credit for and (2) maybe I'm not as "in control" as I think I am. 

I worked for a company once that used an assessment tool called The Johari Window as a team-building exercise. It was facilitated by a professional, which was important, and everyone had to agree to only use positive input because the negative had huge potential for harm. There were four "panes" of the window: Public Self - things known to me and others; Private Self - things known to me only; Hidden Self - things known to others that I don't know or that I think others don't know and Unknown Self - things no one knows. The exercise was done in a small group, about six, made up of people who were already close and had worked together a number of years. As a group, we completed the window for each person and I kept my window for a long, long time. I remember sitting back in my chair and almost holding my breath as my friends listed things in my "Hidden Self" pane. How did they know these things about me? I had never told anyone so they weren't supposed to know. 

One person in particular said something that made my mouth hang open, metaphorically, although I'm not completely sure it wasn't literally, too. He said, "You don't always let your candle of intellegence burn at full brightness. You hold back, never playing dumb, but playing not as smart as you really are sometimes to keep from intimidating people, particularly men." Now you have to remember that this was in the 80's and women were still fighting a hard battle for acceptance in the workplace. We had to learn all types of ways to succeed without "rubbing it in the faces" of our male counterparts. If you were tough and competent, you were a "viscous power-hungry bitch." On one occasion a male coworker actually said to me, "You know what your problem is? You're too smart." Let's just say that I and the other strong women I worked with, learned to walk a tightrope; sometimes we danced on it, too.

So for someone, a man even, to burst my bubble of self-illusion that easily was eye-opening to me. It actually became very liberating. In my mind it was now "out of the bag," so what the heck.  I had never "dimmed down" on personal work, that had gotten me where I was, but from then on I didn't worry much about "being nice" to male coworkers when I had ideas better than theirs. Oh, and the guy who burst my bubble? Five years later we got married. Guess he did know me pretty well.

Thanks for stopping by today; see you tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. You are so right about the games women are forced to play in the workplace. I'm sure that still happens, but I hope the situation has improved.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that Scott was the one who "outed" you. :)