Carrie. My childhood BFF. We shared a love of Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and New Kids on the Block. She staked claim to Jordan, and Jonathon was all mine. We passed notes folded into arrows and schemed about how to make our crushes fall in love with us. Sometimes she said things that shocked me, revealing private details that would embarrass most. How this 9-year-old, with barrel curled bangs held firm by hairspray, managed the confidence to publicly be unabashedly herself, is beyond me. Over time, I came to love this quality, always knowing where I stood with her, never wondering what judgments may be hidden behind a feigned smile.
During the murky waters of junior high, acid washed denim, and peg-legged pants, she left, moving away with her family, but her forthrightness remained.
I found my typically shy self, previously mortified by the smallest of things, “tellin’ it like it was.” It wasn’t a conscious transformation, her humility was contagious and burrowed its way in. I tried it on here and there and found myself still alive afterward. It was incredibly liberating; giving less f*cks, assuming I wasn’t a lone wolf in my perceived weirdness. Acknowledging that I wasn’t particularly special or unique relieved quite a bit of pressure. So, it stuck.
There were multiple consequences.
Sometimes I pissed people off.
Sometimes I hurt people’s feelings.
Lots of times, I made people feel normal for the things they were ashamed of.
Lots of times I built relationships that allowed for complete honesty, the sharing of extremely intimate details, and a resulting unburdening.
Lots of times people felt less alone on this giant, sphere of a planet hurtling through space. Myself included.
Of course, like any learned behavior, there are extremes, and ultimately a balance must be sought.
As an adult, who has felt the power of my words and the pain they’ve often inflicted, I now seek middle ground, biting my tongue in favor of respect. I take heed of the emotional space others are in, considering what they can handle, what will help versus hinder. I’m still learning, and I still toe the line, at times crossing it.
But, when it comes to the details of my life, my private obstacles, I rarely pipe down. I have forgone my secrecy because I know my experiences, and feelings, and fears, and questions are not unique to me. I share because there is strength in numbers. I share because I don’t want to carry the weight of my inadequacies around, left to accumulate and hide behind the dark corners of my psyche, ever worried I might be found out, my human imperfection revealed. I share because it lightens me, unshackling my energies for progressive endeavors.
I share because not only does a lack of privacy make others feel connected, but it extends the invitation to be themselves with me, to speak of whatever weighs upon their souls, and I guard that honor with the utmost pride, love, and respect.
I want everyone to be reminded that we are just people; struggling, striving, loving, pressing on, and that struggle is beautiful because it is unanimous, and real.
Some are uncomfortable with honesty. Recognize that it serves as a reminder of their own buried shame they’re not yet ready to relinquish and the illusory human separation we often cling to out of a self-importance born to camouflage feelings of inadequacy.
Being authentic with one another, moving beyond shame, is courageous and freeing. It’s why the blogs that I write, with the most intimate details and raw emotion, get the most reads. We want to feel normal. We crave to be laid bare from our cloaks of shame, the chains that bind. What is privacy anyway, in a world full of people who are all born to eventually die, with the yearning for joy and fulfillment in between, but an illusion? We are more the same than different, always and forever.
So, tell it, tell that thing, tell all the things. Confide in the friend you know has your best interests at heart. When you see another struggling, make known your inner demons. Release embarrassment, embracing connection and authenticity. Do you think no one has gone bankrupt? Struggled with addiction? Worked through anxiety and depression? Been cheated on? Felt completely disconnected from their husband? Gone through unbearable loss? Even if some haven’t, they undoubtedly have a loved one who has, and you’ll never receive the sage advice, understanding, or comforting acceptance they have to offer if you disown and thereby silence your humanness.
Share all of you, even the shadows, courageously, lovingly granting others permission to step out of their own.