Exposed Bravery

Motivational keynote speaker and humorist David Roche

I’m wading in murky waters tonight.


Ever, ever so slowly I’ve been reading through Anne Lamott’s Plan B. Tonight I read several more chapters.


Have you ever been around someone or thing that you really didn’t like too much and then all of the sudden they presented a concept that you fell head over heels in love with?


(Yeah. That’s how some people end up getting married. Ha!)


Well, that’s how I am with Plan B. Tonight’s chapters introduced me to David Rouche and his philosophy of The Church of 80% Sincerity.


(Caveat Emptor, I haven’t read this book, just the review of it by Lamott. And what I did read of the interview told me there would be several philosophical items I wouldn’t embrace.)


Rouche’s face was severely disfigured by a tumor as a youngster. He’s now in his 60s; he’s spent a lifetime presenting his face to a public that fears, scorns, and judges him. And he’s come through it with a pretty amazing philosophy about life.


Rouche believes he’s blessed, that his ugly is external and clearly evident, giving him no reason to try to be fake to fool the people around him. He looks at people and sees how hard they try to hide their imperfections to present an attractive image.. and feels relief that he’s not in their shoes.


If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we all acknowledge there are hurt, scarred and ugly pieces woven in with the character traits and brilliant decisions we claim with pride. So what do we do with those unsavory bits?


Do we hide them? Pretend they aren’t there? Live in fear others will find out? Worry that the love of the people around us is conditional and can’t accept our flaws?


Even though we know no one is perfect, we tend to glance around at others, see their “highlight reels,” and assume we are lacking. Our brains and our hearts are at war over insecurity.


This concept has haunted me for several weeks, since I read an article about a middle school dance offering a VIP lounge for the attendees. One student’s mother, Marcy Magiera, wrote a blog post condemning the idea… and  I can’t get a few of her sentences out of my mind:


“Let’s face it, any middle school is a pit of roiling emotions and hormones, where awkwardness abounds and everyone–even the most popular kids–are struggling on some level to fit in. To figure out, even, who they want to fit in with. There are already invisible velvet ropes aplenty, segregating the popular kids, the smartest kids, the jocks.”


Doesn’t that resonate with you?


The desire to fit in is so evident in our children. I can watch my six-year-old adopt the mannerisms of those she esteems… it’s easy to see her learn to copy and seek approval.


We don’t grow out of that need to fit in. We just learn how to disguise its desperation. As adults we become better at playing off the miming we do.


As adults, we see and respond to the invisible ropes, separating image from authenticity, making us believe if we dare show our true self we will be humiliated, despised, shunned.


But, really, what are we so worried about?


If a friend came to us with the exact struggle, scar, and hurt we bear, wouldn’t we treat them with love and grace? So why are we unwilling to accept they would love on us… “despite” our issue?


In so many ways, I think Roche has nailed disfigurement on the head. We all fight battles. His are forcibly truthful… most of ours… require exposed bravery.


I prefer authenticity to a cover up. I believe it tears the invisible ropes apart.


What do you prefer?


This post was originally published July 2, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!



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