Occasionally I will send or receive a really personal text from a friend I haven’t connected with in a while. With a burst of courage it will pop up on my screen. It will ask something personal like ‘how long did it take you to get pregnant’, or, ‘how often do you physically connect with your partner’, or ‘why is marriage so hard’? Other times, I will have a glass of wine or go for a walk with my girlfriends (whom I am so thankful for), and these same seemingly “shameful” topics will come up. I say ‘seemingly’ because they are not actually shameful, yet they are often only discussed in a mumbled post glass of wine, a faceless text, or in my case, a confidential session with a client.
From how often people bath their kids, what they feed their family, to how much money individuals make, earn, or are given, often times we wonder about these things. It’s why reality TV (no matter how awful it might be) gets such high ratings, is because it allows us to feel as if we are peaking behind the curtain of someone’s life. However, it does not allow someone else to peek behind the curtain of ours, which I think, given the right audience, is important. I’m not saying you need to divulge your income, love life, and emotional status to everyone, but I am saying that feeling truly known by a few key individuals is important. There is an emotional cost to keeping your curtain closed at all times. It is exhausting and isolating. For me, feeling truly known means I can have moments of weakness and momentarily lack confidence in front of you, and I know you will still have confidence in me. It means I can tell you what resources I have at my disposal and discuss how I want to use them. Often, it is the non-judgmental conversations about our weaknesses that inspire others to share their strengths and help us to move forward. In addition, these conversations let people know that they too can share their moments of weakness with us and give us a chance to share our strengths.
I love sharing with my close friends that my children often eat smoothies and popcorn for dinner, that my husband and I accidentally went a month or more without having a night to ourselves, and that when I quit my full-time job, I could no longer afford expensive dinners out, but instead I would be happy to take a walk with them. In turn, I love when I show up at my friend’s house and their bathroom is dirty, they are half dressed, and they are just dying for a listening ear. I’m not saying you have to be a mess to “be known,” but I am saying, it’s likely the people that you are occasionally raw and messy around are the same people that are going to love you and support you the most.
When we allow people to “peak behind our curtain,” our “secrets” just become our life choices and often serve to inspire others. It is the gift of connection and we owe it to ourselves to have that.
Cheers to peaking behind curtains.