When No One is Watching

This week, I was thinking about how we perform in life — when the lights come on, the curtains open up and the stage is set.

Our performances happen in many places: at work, at school; in meetings, in dates. And lately, it happens online in photos, statuses, tweets and snaps.

All in an effort to present ourselves in the most favorable light. Inherently, this isn’t bad. Certain times and events require some performance, and I am no stranger to this.

But it got me thinking of the other side: the times when no one is watching. The time when you exit the stage and go back to your room. The time when you wash your face, change your clothes and put on your dorky glasses. The time when it’s okay to just be…you.

I find this special. Away from an audience, we enjoy things that are authentically ‘us.’ Things that make us smile and laugh and cry — completely unfiltered and raw. Maybe it’s singing off-key in the shower, or eating spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream for dinner, or sharing embarassing stories on FaceTime with your best friend.

Interestingly, I saw a moment like this unfold in a public place. I was on the bus to work, and I saw one of my colleagues working on his laptop. He seemed focused — his fingers humming away on the keyboard. At one point during the ride, I noticed his iPhone light up and buzz softly next to him. He peeked at the text, and then out of nowhere — he snorted and giggled.

Immediately, he looked up — and looked around sheepishly. I can see his mind turning: “Did anyone see me? Whoops.” Realizing the coast was clear, he took a small breath and resumed typing.

Why was it so special? Because he broke “character.” He let himself enjoy a laugh that was real and pure — even in the midst of an audience.

I think of my own “off-the-stage” moments. The times when I allow myself to be silly or crazy or goofy. No matter how big or small, they are so worth it. You get to experience the full effect of feelings — without the pressure to calibrate or posture.

So given how much time we spend on stage, take the time to indulge in the moments when you are off it too. Because with no one watching, you might enjoy the rest of the show!

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