SNAPSHOTS: Authenticity vs. Transparency

February: a new month filled with hope.  New possibilities.  Expectation for days to be better (than ones past). And yes, the joy of turning another year older and for a little bit more wisdom and an even  greater perspective and focus!

So I was recently in a conversation with a dear friend who mentioned the following:

Relationships require authenticity but not warrant transparency!

I sat there thinking about that (and actually asked her to repeat it again).  I think it was one of the first times I felt as though I had been given “permission” to live that out.  If you know me at all, I am not typically classified as “introvert” or being a “closed book”.  I tend to be put in the “extrovert” category and oftentimes have a bit of flair for the dramatic which is frequently expressed openly.  However the more time I spend in (all types) relationship with people, the more value I see in this statement! If you surveyed 5 of your friends, asking them to describe your level of relationship, more than likely there would be several who’d say they are your best friend and that you share everything and know every detail of your lives.  But then if I ask YOU, is your perspective of that same relationship the same, perhaps it’s not. Why is that? I think most of us do our best to be authentic.  To be true to Photo stripwho we are, but there is a level of transparency that is and is not necessary (or beneficial) for every relationship.

As stated in previous blogs, I live my life fairly intentionally. I was in a conversation with someone towards the end of last year and as we chatted I mentioned that I felt that allot of people don’t actually know me because I only show them what I want them to see.  I give people a SNAPSHOT of who I am. A POLAROID of how I feel and what I think. A SNAPSHOT of what I think they want me to say/be/think.  In all honesty, those “photos” are true “statements” of who I am — they are authentic and there is a level of transparency to those moments, but the level of vulnerability is kept very much in my control and is limited to the level that is safe, to the point of trust (which again, I think can be appropriate!)

photo strip 2
As I’ve thought through this a bit – I seen value in NOT showing more than SNAPSHOTS – the simplified glimpses of me, (and not showing the entire detailed picture), with everyone on the planet and that is appropriate.  But…… the thing I keep coming back to is am I limiting my level of relationships with people who “deserve” more or who “ask” for me transparent with them?  Are there people who’ve tried to and who should have had more than the 3 POLAROIDS I’ve given? Did I or do I miss out on truer relationships, deeper friendships, more understanding and connectedness with people, because I keep too much control?

The extroverted, outgoing, open, friendly person that I am struggles in finding the balance of living authenticity and transparently.  I want people to like me – but with any relationship — that being open and being authentic and/or transparent (aka vulnerable), opens the door and increases the RISK for pain and hurt.

I will say that there are a handful of people who have seen or do consistently see all the details of my life photos… they had been given  SNAPSHOTS but have taken those and pursued the bigger picture, the layers underneath what was obvious.  I do not, nor will I, show the entire world every detail Wood Poloroidsof who I am or what I’m about — but there are those who are doin’ life with me who have either has been invited into that or who have pursued me and who have chosen to walk this journey, to be in the process with me, even in the messy bits.

So as I continue to process through life, giving people SNAPSHOTS (authentic and perhaps simplified), or the more detailed pictures (with more transparency), I look forward to seeing the COMPLETED COLLAGE of those relational moments…….. not only MY snapshots  but of all those in my life who’s SNAPSHOT complete OUR story!

Say “cheese”!