By: Christine Watkins
I begrudgingly sauntered into the courtroom with a herd of others who had been summoned for jury duty. Yes, I am honored and grateful to live in a country with such a judicial system, but I could think of about 873 other things I’d rather be doing. My number was not called to sit in the jury stand for selection. I sat amongst the “reserves” attending to the discussions, but painstakingly watching the clock while simultaneously praying that the parties in the stand would suffice and uphold the law in such a way that my services would not be needed. Before the jury selection began, we were given several questions to answer. These questions would provide insight to the judge and attorneys as to who was sitting in the juror box and who would be the right fit for their needs. What do you do for work? Do you know anyone in law enforcement? Have you ever served on a jury before? What is your education? Are you married? Children? What do you do for hobbies? What do you watch on TV?
After reading the questions aloud, the judge said that he was certain that many of the potential jurors would be afraid to answer these questions speaking into the microphone, but that it was legally required in order to capture everyone’s voice for legal record. My mind drifted off… Who would be afraid to answer those questions? Don’t people want to share a bit about themselves? The judge then shared that he recently read a study that the #1 fear among adults is public speaking. #3, he shared, was death. I was stunned. Was this accurate? Is it true that most adults would prefer to be in the casket than be the person presenting the eulogy?
One after another, the dutiful potential jurors answered the questions with the microphone trembling in their hands. Many of them gave disclaimers as to why they were nervous even before proceeding with the questions. As I watched this repeated display of human behavior, I began to feel a little disappointed. A little sad even. If I was going to be held captive in this small courtroom for up to 8 hours, I wanted to get to know the people in the front of the courtroom. The real people. Not the white washed or candy coated version of themselves portrayed in a desperate need for approval. Did they feel they were being judged?
This sent my mind whirling… When do I show up white washed or candy coated? To me showing up white washed means you give only the dim version of yourself to others. You leave out the details. You leave out a lot of authenticity. Candy coated means you show up with only the shiniest or sweetest details. You leave out anything that might show that you, indeed, are a human being with any sort of flaw. You leave out your genuine self.
I guess I show up white washed when I’m unsure of a situation. Clearly, the potential jurors were in a peculiar situation with a lot of unknowns. This made sense. I also show up candy coated when I know there is a lot at stake. One bad move, and I could lose out on something I perceive as meaningful. If I hustle, am I more likely to seal the deal and not lose?
Before I allowed myself to dive deep into the events in my life that spawned my white washing and candy coating right there in the courtroom, I gave myself permission to simply sit with this awareness and several questions. I invite you to do the same.
Where is the judge in your life? Perhaps you have a strong inner critic who reminds you often that you’re not ready, worthy, or good enough. Maybe it’s time to tell that inner critic to settle down. You’ve got this.
What are the plaintiff’s complaints in your life? Perhaps you’re holding onto a story line that is no longer serving you. Perhaps, by repeatedly stating that you are afraid of public speaking or are just not interested in moving up the ladder at work, is allowing you to show up as your white washed self in a comfortable way?
What are the defendants defending in your life? Perhaps sharing all of your stories of why you can’t do something (like that knee injury back in high school or the promotion you didn’t get a few years back) keeps you from having to take risks you’re not sure you’re willing to try? Perhaps you’re candy coating yourself instead of taking these risks?
Where are you showing up white washed or candy coated in your life when the world actually would prefer your brilliant colors and a little less syrup?
Go ahead. Try it. Grab that microphone and start to share with the world just exactly who you are. We are all waiting to get to know you a little better. And, we are all trapped here in this courtroom of life anyway, right?