Bringing Yourself

At one point in high school I and a giant group of fellow students were made to participate in an on-campus “retreat” that involved a series of games.  These games were meant to teach teamwork and probably other things I didn’t care about much at the time.  I’m not writing this to say that I learned anything from the experience, at least as was intended.  Like the rest of everyone there, I was jaded and bored.  

For one of the games, we took turns introducing ourselves (“Hi I’m Steve”) and an item we’d bring to an imaginary barbeque we’d all attend (“And I’m bringing soda.”)  The item had to start with the same letter as our name.  Naturally, this quickly became a slog (one student: “Dan.” [long pause] “Dog.”).  When my turn came up I said, “Hi I’m Mike and I’m bringing myself.”  This got a few nervous chuckles, and became weirder as play continued, since after introducing yourself you had to recount what each person would bring.  “That’s Mike and he’s bringing, um, him.”

I confess that to this day I still feel clever in getting out of committing to any responsibility for a pretend party.  Yet despite this minor rebellion, my words had an oblique honesty about them - I brought way more of myself in that moment than I usually did at that age.  My inclination would have been to say something boring, like matches or mayo, and keep my sarcasm to myself.  Instead I showed my disdain.

Alright, so it’s corny to write a post about bringing myself by telling a story about when I “brought myself.”  I concede that I could not resist.  But I do think about that little moment in my life sometimes, especially when I crack a joke or share a thought that is more personal than I’m used to offering.  It’s easier to withhold yourself than it is to be completely there with other people, as the latter is risky.