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A Game of Social Chicken, and A Challenge

June 20, 2011

I was raised by the perfect mom.

At least, that’s what she wanted everyone else to think. That’s how she was raised, after all.

Keep up appearances.

Worry about what the neighbors think.

Never, ever air dirty laundry in public.

But times are different, and real relationships, as we all know, don’t come from being perfect with each other. Brene Brown, speaker, blogger, and author writes about this in The Gifts of Imperfection. She also shares her own imperfections in wise and witty ways on her blog.

True connection, true friendship, requires that we get real.

It comes from being flawed.

I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.

It’s a bit like a social game of chicken – how much risk are you willing to take to get real with someone – to uncover the flaws, and develop a relationship that means something, instead of just comparing recipes for tea bread and sipping coffee in your sun room?

It doesn’t always work out, however – the benefit doesn’t always outweigh the risk. As my friend Renee says, “People are mean!” and you will, every once in a while, get burned for your bravery. I have. We all have.

It’s enough to make you never want to be honest again. But then again – being perfect is harder than being flawed. Brown calls it an “emotional straightjacket.”  We can cocoon ourselves from the hurt and the betrayal, or we can saddle up again and pack away that lesson to share with someone else we might run into down the road. Because someday, someone else is going to need to hear how you got over it and moved on.

More often than not, however, when you take off the band-aid in public, there’s going to be someone there that thinks (or even says) “Hey, me too!” and that’s where real friendship begins.

“The only real currency in this bankrupt world is what we have to share when we’re uncool.” Almost Famous, and

My challenge to you is this – share a flaw with someone this week and see what happens. Then come back and tell us about it. Here’s a three ways you might do this:

  • Invite someone over even if there’s still cheerios on the floor from breakfast (or dust bunnies in the dining room, or dirty socks in the entry way, or cat hair on the couch. Wait, that’s my house…)
  • Ask for help – admit to someone else that you can’t do it all yourself.
  • Share a worry – confess a fear, a concern, or a worry that’s been bugging you with someone

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
— C.S. Lewis

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Christy A. permalink
    June 20, 2011 2:53 pm

    Social chicken…love it!!!

    As someone who is always happy to answer just about an question honestly (no matter how awkward it may make the querier) and a notorious over-sharer, I can personally attest to the fact that sharing the gritty, grimy, not-so-polished bits of yourself is a sure-fire way to either make life-long freinds or expose those who will just end up judging you somewhere along the way. (How’s THAT for a compound sentence?!?) May as well rip the band-aid off and get it out of the way quickly!

    Thanks for the reminder, Adelle, of the grimace-inducing beauty of sharing your secrets.

    • June 20, 2011 3:04 pm

      I must relay that it was Gabe who first called it Social Chicken! Smart guy that he is…

      “Notorious over-sharer.” almost made me fall out of my chair. And yes, you’re absolutely right – it does expose the judgers sooner than later! Wise words… Love you, Christy!

      • Christy A. permalink
        June 20, 2011 3:35 pm

        Ha! It’s funny ’cause it’s true!

  2. Melody permalink
    June 20, 2011 3:42 pm

    Adelle, I think I have shared more of my flaws with you and Gabe than almost anyone else. I think reading your blog has inspired me to do so. I have also experienced friends that may have changed their opinion of me because of it but I have been able to overcome that hurt and decided that I want to be the real me and not the the me I want people to perceive me as. I am very far from perfect and that is okay. It is very freeing!! Right now my house is a mess and yet I am sitting here posting as opposed to going crazy over unfolded laundry and unmopped floors. I will get to it eventually. Thank you for being a great friend.

  3. Cindy permalink
    June 20, 2011 8:12 pm

    Adelle, I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks back and have been laughing/sniffling/thinking ever since. Social Chicken. Some of us DO feel we cannot be real or open. Okay, some of us in my little corner of the world are teachers. I know that many have “issues” with teachers, and I’m a public school teacher. How’s that for a cherry on top of the cake?!? I find I’m already painted as non-Christian–I love Jesus, by the way–the minute the “truth” is revealed. Then, once acknowledged as a Christian, I’m not a “real” one because I teach in a public school. So, with all that in mind, how in the world do I voice my concerns about testing, values curriculum, other teachers, a bad day, parent interactions, classroom dynamics, day to day frustrations? I even feel I’m betraying other teachers if I admit there are days I don’t want to go to school. My husband is a gem about listening, but there’s so much he just doesn’t understand. But, he wants to “fix”it, bless his heart! Mostly, I’ve developed a more basic relationship with Jesus in the past year or two, a more real relationship. But, there are times I’d like to tell another what I tell Him.

    • June 20, 2011 8:37 pm

      So.glad you took the time to comment, Cindy! Where I come from, teachers are worthy of great respect, ESPECIALLY those who work so hard in our incredibly under-funded public schools! If all the Christians leave the public schools, who will be Jesus to those kids? I pray you do speak up and continue to strive for better education. We need people like you in our country’s schools!

  4. Tonya Power permalink
    June 21, 2011 11:31 am

    I think maybe that no matter how grown up we get, there are always people, words, situations, etc. that will trigger a reversion to our kid behaviors of trying to find safety in a group. I am usually being real to the people around me, but my introversion makes me quieter. I’ve found that if I stay quiet, people will make up for themselves who I am and therefore have a misguided view of me. Sometimes that has been helpful and sometime (more often I suspect) it has been the barrier between me and the other person. The one thing that has broken down the barrier more than anything else is that I now have four kids with no shyness whatsoever. They will talk in public, talk to strangers, talk about anything on their minds, and say very inappropriate things. Part of me rejoices in this fact, knowing that they won’t have the troubles I did. But, part of me wishes that I could moderate their rough spots a little more, and fear I will turn them into a miniature me with my more familiar problems. Perhaps we should just remember that we are all on a journey together in life and that none of us have arrived yet.

  5. Randy hall permalink
    June 28, 2011 2:52 pm

    You are so right about the messy home and being hospitable. I remember reading Open Heart, Open Home years ago and the distinction between “entertaining” and true hospitality – a distinction some Christians need to rediscover.

  6. Nancy G permalink
    September 23, 2012 5:03 pm

    I too was raised not to air dirty laundry. As a result, I find it difficult to make deep friendships with people. The sad thing is, I find it harder to have deep relationships with Christians because growing up I was betrayed several times by Christian friends. Thank you for the challenge. Being real is the only way to make meaningful friendships. I will find ways to do so this week.


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