50 Ways To Leave Your Cover

You know the cover.

The cover we put around us to hide who we are from the other humans.

I have a cover. So do you. So does everybody.

So, no matter who you are, no one really knows who lives in your head but you.

Sure, there are people who probably know you more than others, but they don’t know everything.

It’s no wonder loneliness is a thing.

I’m not suggesting that you drop your cover. I mean, you can’t get rid of it, that is just ridiculous.

If we all acted exactly the way we wanted all the time, then life would be bizarre. We would also see a lot more adults throw tantrums. Probably would be a lot more fistfights, too. Inappropriate behavior would rise to biblical proportions.

Still, there is something to be said for living as authentically as comfortable.

It wouldn’t be horrible to at least loosen up the cover a bit. Perhaps drape it seductively over your shoulder. Or wear it like a cape like Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter. 

Until someone can offer me definitive proof, I have to assume we have this one go around. We’re all going to die one day, we might as well be who we are as much as we can. It’s not too late. It’s never too late.

I don’t really have 50 suggestions on how to live authentically, I was just stealing a little from my favorite Paul Simon song.

Don’t judge, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover is a perfectly good Paul Simon song. 

Anyway, I can’t express enough how much more I enjoy life by being more “me”.

For instance, this job?

I was on the job for about two weeks when I told a group of women that I appreciated them asking me to lunch every day, but that I have a lot of social anxiety and group lunches are torture for me.

It’s been over 3 years and they mostly leave me alone at at lunch. It’s great. That was a turning point for me. I was at a new job, with new people. I had an opportunity I could go ahead and be who I am as much as I can, which is so much less exhausting.

I confessed to struggling with anxiety to a group of strangers and the world didn’t swallow me whole.

In fact, the world got a little easier. I was running out of excuses why I couldn’t have lunch.

Every once in a while, I do go. Maybe, twice a year. I take a lot of shit from everyone about me gracing them with my presence, but it’s all in fun.

I guess. I hope. Oh god, they all hate me, don’t they? 

Anyway, the point is this, you are you.

  • You don’t have to be anyone else.
  • You don’t have to pretend.
  • And you don’t have to make excuses if you don’t want to do something.

You know what else you don’t have to do? You don’t have to be consistent.

You are a human and humans are not robots. I think. I guess it’s possible some of the humans might be, but I’m afraid to find out for sure. I predict that some day humankind will be very sorry we ever thought up robots. Did we learn nothing from The Terminator? 

I have a wide personal space and I mostly don’t like to be touched except by my people. Casual hugging is a nightmare for me. People at work know this and they respect my feelings.

However, sometimes I am in a place where human contact comforts me and I’m all about the hugging.

I get to decide if I feel like getting a hug or not. And I don’t have to apologize for it. Again, I’m going to take a little shit when I willingly accept a hug from the huggy lady at work, but that is okay. I still get to decide when someone else touches me. I don’t have to submit to a hug I don’t want to receive.

Someone at work told the owner that I don’t like hugs and about every week or two, he will catch me walking down the hallway and ask me if I want a hug. Every time, I say “No, I do not.” He thinks it is hilarious. I don’t so much, but still, not hugging him.

Also, this isn’t just about setting boundaries with other people and being honest about who you are to others.

Being honest with yourself is also helpful.

You know what you are? A little odd. Or maybe, a lot odd. I don’t know. All I know is, we are all at least a little odd.

So? Who decides what is normal, anyway? Be you. Quirks and all.

If a person has a negative opinion about you because they don’t get your quirkiness, that is their business. Not yours.

Unless your quirkiness includes spitting on people or singing Muskrat Love all day, every day. Don’t do those things. 

I may never be completely comfortable in my own skin. But I am more comfortable in my own skin and that is, well..comfortable.

Also, a good thing because if I were comfortable in someone else’s skin, then we’d be in a Buffalo Bill situation, wouldn’t we? Just to be on the safe side, if I ever offer you a bottle of lotion, just say no. Because now I’m wondering how comfortable your skin is.  

 

Photo courtesy of Gratisography.

 

 

 

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Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. KK says:

    I’m glad you opened up and told them. I’ve been trying to explain to people for the last few years why I can’t do presentations where I’m being judged, despite being able to perform on a stage to 1000s of people. There’s also a new kind of hell now where you have to do video selfies as part of a job application, explaining why you are the best person for the job. Kill me now. Why is it so hard for people to understand that some of us are just not comfortable extolling our own virtues? And if they want bouncy and perky on camera, that’s not going to be me.

    Reply
  2. nbratscott says:

    At 63 I’m just getting to the point where I can just be me. Now all I have to do is figure out who ME is……

    Reply
  3. Love this post! Life is a process of becoming and the more we let go of the need to be who we think the world wants us to be, the more authentic we become. Rock on!

    Reply
  4. Harry says:

    This is really good.

    I used to be more concerned about people seeing that I was awkward and, um, standoffish.

    Not so much anymore. I have the luxury now of being a middle aged white guy, and we can get away with things that maybe others can’t.

    I believe that I give off a vibe that people understand, though, because only really, really crazy people ever try to hug me.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      yeah, I just get in front of that now and explain that I am awkward and standoffish. How they deal with that is up to them, I don’t worry about it. HAHAHAH. Well, I DO..but not as much.

      Reply
  5. so true, yet so hard.

    Reply
  6. The other day at work one of my coworkers told me she was going to a meeting in another building and asked if I needed anything. I hesitated then said, “Yes, I’d like a cup of hot fat and bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia.” I couldn’t help it but I also felt nervous about it, but then she started laughing and said “I LOVE THAT MOVIE!” And then we traded a few quotes.
    And I wanted so badly to stand there and quote the entire movie, which I could do, but instead I stepped back and let her have the last word–“It’s all ball bearings now”.
    You’ve done a fantastic job of finding that balance between being yourself and living with others. Some people are still working on it.

    Reply
  7. Renee says:

    I really admire how you show up and write consistently, and how you almost always touch on something I’ve been thinking about. I am, of course referring to the Buffalo Bill part. 🙂

    Also I was like OMG I HUGGED HER AT ERMA but I put my natural aversion to that on hold there, figured you probly did too. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Haralee says:

    Good for you! For someone who can sometimes be a steam roller in positive enthusiasm and inclusion, I truly appreciate when someone is honest with me letting me know that a hug, a spontaneous dinner is not their cup of tea.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      It’s not that I don’t adore hugs or being with people, but I have to prepare for that. If plans or physical contact comes out of the blue, it’s really difficult for me and it takes a while for the agitation to go away. I’m finding that it’s easier to just be upfront about that.

      Reply
  9. Connie says:

    Good for you to articulate what you are comfortable with and what you are not comfortable with. And good they respect it, not everyone does.
    Also I find i am vaguely uncomfortable when someone, particularly someone I don’t know, gives me an online hug. It just feels awkward. Is that weird?

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      Well, if YOU think it is weird, then yes, it is weird for you. I get what you are saying. I mean, if it is someone I know, then it’s good, but a stranger? Don’t virtually hug me. Weirdo. Haha

      Reply
  10. Doug in Oakland says:

    You probably wouldn’t be too comfortable in my skin. For one thing, it’s kinda hairy, and for another, how to put this? It’s used. As in kinda worse for the wear.
    I mean, I’m OK with it, but I’ve had 57 years to get this way, and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to figure all of that shit out right away, and on the fly, to boot.
    I’m glad you are feeling more comfortable about yourself and who you are, especially as from here, it appears that who you are kicks holy ass.
    And I mean that in the best possible way…

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      Thank you, my friend. I don’t feel like much of an ass kicker these days. Still in ‘trying to find a place to live’ hell. It’s freaking me the fuck out and it is wearing me down.

      Reply
  11. Maria P says:

    I was always the odd man out for much of my youth in my family, seeing as I had triplets for siblings. And being different was a bad thing. So in my 50s, I have been able to own my differences and be okay with them, and even proud of some. Thank God for being 50…except for the creaky joints.
    Oh and good luck finding that house of yours. It’s waiting for you…

    Reply
  12. cjflines says:

    I’m so with you on the hugging aversion. I’m a Brit transplant to Texas. My (let us say mature) generation in the UK was never very tactile, except on the rugby field! The social physical contact that is common here (greeting and farewell hugs, shoulder and elbow grasps) still makes me tense, even after a good number of years. And on the house saga, Michelle, it will come good. Moving is an awful process, but all of a sudden a great place will turn up!

    Reply
  13. Cris says:

    I love this post so much!

    Reply
  14. Synna says:

    I touched on this a bit in one of my many introspective blog posts. I constantly hold my cover close. It’d be interesting to find out who I am without it, or just casually draped. 😉

    Thanks for entertaining me with your words and opening my eyes to possibilities. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Spiked Lee says:

    days late and many dollars short, but loved reading this. I recently did an work event with a bunch of huggers, and it was weird. They all hugged. I felt awkward both accepting and refusing.
    Some people can always hug me. I think its about trust for me. Like, do I trust that you are safe person, or this is a safe place.
    I always ask.
    I’m feeling weird these days — partly because I am trying to be a full time artist, and did an outdoor sales event (see above) and only sold one piece. Also it rained super hard the first day, and a little the next day. I was disappointed, and now not looking forward to the next one. But it is at least indoors. And I did meet a couple of new people, and have followed up with them. Last year I did one event, this year I’m doing two, so that is progress.

    Reply
  16. I actually just had a conversation with a friend about this: I’m a LOT to take in—that’s just how I am, operating at 147% capacity personality, but I’m… let’s say “closed off” around new people because, statistically, they’re not gonna work out.

    Food analogy: most people (here in the US, where I’m at; I know it’s different elsewhere) are like peaches. when you first meet them there’s only the barest resistance to that outer skin and you’re in! All sorts of delicious peachy goodness and you feel like you know them… except for that little pit everyone keeps secret, but whatever. Me, I’m more like a walnut: tough to crack but once you’re in it’s all-access. Or maybe a coconut, since walnuts are easier to crack and nobody’s ever fooled by the shell… yeah, let’s go with the coconut thing; they’re messier, which also makes sense.

    Reply
  17. Lori says:

    This resonated so hard with me. Never been the bubbly, big smile type. I’m friendly but I’m not a extrovert. Went to this meeting about a week and a half ago and it felt really awkward because it was a whole bunch of huggers. (corporate guys came into town for this, so it was dubbed is this once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing) I gritt my teeth, but it just felt weird and fake. Reading the comment above from Spike Lee, makes me think that this is the new normal, weird hugging at meetings.

    Reply
  18. Spiked Lee says:

    I just found out I got a commission I applied for, for painting a public utility box!
    (you know, those ugly silver or green boxes you see around town, near street light poles and stuff.)
    Thanks, Michelle, for asking how it goes!
    I still have the other sales event in a couple weeks, and someone from the last one wants me to bring some stuff to see how it looks in his house…
    so I am not feeling as bleak about that as I was.
    🙂 <3

    Reply
  19. emelle says:

    I am a hugger. I am VERY comfortable in my own hugging skin, TYVM, despite DESPERATELY needing some lotion right this very instant. This does not mean that I will hug a person who doesn’t want a hug, nor will I hug a person who hugs poorly (for very long). I express a lot of emotion in my hugs. They are healing hugs. If you need a healing hug, I will give you one. And you will feel better.
    But if you don’t wanna have lunch with me and the rest of the girls, that’s okay. Who ARE those chicks, anyway? Why do I gotta hear other people chewing? Blech.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    So. Do you need a hug? 😉

    Reply