“Although I know it’s unfair, I reveal myself one mask at a time.” – Stephen Dunn
The best thing I ever learned about interviewing is to honestly be nothing more or nothing less than me.
The best thing I ever learned about first dates, which are really just relationship interviews, is to honestly be nothing more or nothing less than me.
The best thing I ever learned about friendships… well, I think you get the point.
You see, in the first two cases, it’s foolish and counter-productive to try to be what you think the other person wants (tip for any of my prospective dates: you have no idea what I’m looking for) because, of course the other party is either trying to paint the company as the best place you may ever have the privilege of working at – if you’re good enough or, in the case of dating, your date has that game face firmly screwed on, unless your interviewer or date also reads this blog, in which case you’re perfect for each other. Go for it.
The benefits of presenting the real you are many, or at least two. First, by presenting the real you, there is no act to keep up. You can be more relaxed, talk honestly with confidence. Maybe most importantly, you are giving your counterpart the chance to make an honest evaluation right off.
How you like me now, bitch? Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you!
Now, if you were lucky and guessed what that interviewer or date was looking for, and you put the right mask on, you can look forward to putting that mask back in place every day at work, or every time you and your new partner go out together. Let’s face it, you’re probably not a professional actor, and even they get tired of playing the same part over and over. Sooner or later, crack by crack, flake by flake, that plaster mask falls away and then, the real you is revealed. Your boss or lover now sees you with all your crazy hanging out. On a good day, the real you is really what they were looking for, but settled for the fake you, and you live happily ever after.
In the real world, you now have some mental, emotional, financial pain to go through.
Conversely, when you are your real self, you are relaxed which is, generally speaking, contagious, allowing you random peeks behind the mask of the person across the table from you.
“Oh, no, he did not just say women don’t belong in science!”
Date, or interviewing manager, do you really want to spend a significant amount of time in the presence of that person?
Sometimes your crazy meshes with another person’s crazy, and that is a wonderful thing. More often, though, it’s Freddy vs. Jason. At your job, do you really want to be looking over your shoulder to see who’s going to realize you lied during your interview, and only read the reactor emergency shutdown procedure online three days ago?
So, what the hell has all that got to do with arrows? No, I’m not implying you should scare that crazy stalker bitch away with a bow and arrow. You’d be far more likely to shoot out your tire, then you’d have to drive around on that stupid doughnut thing for days. Nor should you ever bring a bow and arrow to work with you. Trust me on this one; the bail is usually set pretty high for that sort of thing.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare
As someone who has on, well, more than one occasion over-analyzed a thing or situation, I can assure you that, sometimes, you are far better off not giving a shit, because once you give a shit, you suddenly have to be careful. And in order to be careful, you engage that analytical mind.
In solving a well-defined problem, the analytical mind is a marvelous thing, sometimes popping answers out when we least expect them.
“The arrow that is not aimed never misses.” – old proverb
There are many interpretations of that saying. I like the one that explains it as, the less time you take trying to aim perfectly, the better off you are, your arms don’t get tired, your eyes don’t drift. You just raise that thing up, point at the target, and let fly.
It does not mean you make no effort to hit the target; you just need to be decisive.
For your date or interview, sure, dress nice, maybe shower… probably not in that order. But don’t try to think your way through it. You’re either right for that person or job, or you’re not. It’s bad all around to try to jam yourself into something that’s wrong for you. Equally, it is glorious to know you succeeded because you are just the person they wanted.
“You can’t win a negotiation you aren’t ready to walk away from” – George Petro
Sometimes, the unaimed arrow turns out to be a friendship. Yes, it is possible to care too much about your friends, because just like aiming the arrow, when you really start to give a shit how that friend is going to react to something you say or do, you cease to be the most valuable friend that person can have. You become a mask, so busy analyzing you miss opportunities to say the right thing, create opportunities to say the wrong thing, and just generally bugger things up.
Sounds silly but, sometimes, the best way to show you care, is to just do or say the right thing without giving a shit about how your friend will react. They know you; they’ll understand, it’s your job to be a strong shoulder, and a pain in the ass.