Full Disclosure

Typically the hook isn’t so prominently displayed. The give away not so obvious. And that’s how advertisers get us. The message, the product, the pitch, it sounds so good. Too good, even. But we’re sucked in quickly because – at the end of the day – we’re all good consumers. Our disappointment isn’t fully realized until the thing we bought doesn’t work, look, taste, or feel like they said it would. It so often happens this way that I find myself surprised when an item is as good as advertised. I’m used to being ripped off. And this is so much a part of our culture that I think it’s become a part of who we are. More to the point, it’s become a part of who I am. 

I don’t know when it happens, or if a switch is flipped after so many infomercials, but somewhere in the in between we learn to market ourselves. We pitch our value to new people we’d like to be friends with. We market ourselves to prospective mates based on whatever criteria we think they have, then reel them in. We itemize our list of accomplishments for employers with hopes of nailing the interview and landing the dream job. And none of these things is intrinsically bad. The problem is that in every scenario exists the potential for some serious false advertising. 

It’s like this: if the thought of having kids causes you to have a panic attack, launching into your best Mr. Mom impersonation on the first date is – at a minimum – insincere. You’re the chamois towel that can absorb a five gallon bucket of water. If you’re running for elected office and you weren’t offered a full scholarship to West Point, claiming that you were is going to backfire. You’re the vacuum cleaner that can pick up a bowling ball. Or the knife that can cut through Coke cans and still peel tomatoes. It all seems wonderful at first, but it just doesn’t hold up. 

Full disclosure: I’ve done this. Not these specific examples, necessarily, but I have been the chamois towel, the vacuum, and the knife. I have purposefully tried to appear better than I am. I want to seem confident, competent, and in control. Often I am none of these things. Frequently I am none of these things simultaneously. And eventually this becomes evident to everyone involved. Whatever shine was there to begin with fades and what’s left is the me that I was afraid couldn’t cut it or didn’t believe was good enough. What I’ve been learning, however, is that there’s more to be gained by owning who I am right from the start – and really owning it, not with false modesty but with gut-wrenching honesty – than in building a persona or playing a dangerous game of fake it ’til you make it. Making it never happens like that. That’s the truly bad news. 

Here’s the sort-of bad news: not everyone is cool with this kind of full disclosure. It makes people uncomfortable. Hell, it makes me uncomfortable. But I’m discovering that in the awkwardness of owning my own brokeness there’s a peace that I’m not familiar with. It’s the opposite of what you’d expect. It’s actually better than advertised. 

If You Don’t Expect Too Much

It was the Gin Blossoms, and they were right. If you don’t expect too much from me, they sang, you might not be let down. That’s how I feel about this website. There’s a chance that in a years time I’ll post a long, drawn-out apology for everything I’ve written and try earnestly to explain that I don’t believe any of that stuff anymore. Then I’ll re-direct the address to Netflix and tell you that your time is better spent binge-watching the first six seasons of The League. Or I won’t do that at all. Maybe it will actually turn into a little rag-tag outpost for refilling our collectively empty tanks. The kind of place where we can pull in on fumes, or push our broken down souls into, for the chance to admit out loud that, once in a while, everything goes to shit at the same time. That’s what I hope, at least. And I have a hunch that I’m not alone. The feelings say otherwise, because we’ve been bought and sold for so long that we’ve convinced ourselves that no one else is dealing with what we are. So we smile, play whatever socially-constructed game we’re a part of, and think things will get better on their own. Spoiler alert: they don’t, and they aren’t going to. These wooden nickels don’t have any value. They’re worthless.

So let’s give this a go. I don’t know what will happen. Nothing right now. But if you read something that gets stuck in your throat – that sweet spot halfway between heart and mind – maybe we can talk about it. And by talking about it maybe we can be encouraged. And if so, there’s at least a chance that we can encourage someone else. Someone who has a wallet full of splintery coins and an empty heart. Wildly idealistic? Without question. There’s really only one way to know for sure.