I’m going to piss some people off
I found an old letter from around 2001, from a very close friend-then, an old soul — She was encouraging me “I want to know your opinions. If you disagree, I want to hear it. If you don’t understand, ask me.” She was wanting a depth and authenticity that, at that time of the 20 year-old me couldn’t tap into.
I spent most of my life (trying) to be an optimistic person. Looking on the bright side and finding the silver lining in everything. I was living on the surface because it was safe.
Maybe due to my experience of child abuse and/or growing up in a household that only allows positivity and gratefulness all the time…but looking back now, I realized, I just wasn’t giving myself permission to feel.
Of course, I’d feel heartbroken and upset sometimes, but it was all temporary- “it’s not worth my energy” or “I NEED to forgive”.
I valued loyalty to friends and family. I was being loyal to the idea that “I need to be positive”. I just wasn’t loyal to myself.
As I got older, I started to see the not-so-positive things that people do or say. I guess my normal go-to is giving people the benefit of the doubt but more and more I owned my Boundaries — the more I saw these behaviors clearly.
And I started to question myself — “Am I turning into a pessimist? Why am I seeing all these things? Have I gone to the other end of the scale?”
Those were my self-doubts & self-judgments. This was new territory for me:
To have this new set of lens instead of those old sunglasses; blocking out anything bright or glaring.
Luckily, I have people like therapists, close friends and Felix who give me honest reflections — tell me that I’m not pessimistic — I’m just seeing things clearly now. I can distinguish both the positives and negatives within people and experiences.
Phew* it’s a good calibration.
To feel the whole scale has deepened my awareness and ultimately, my choices.
I want to be authentic to myself and in all my relationships. It’s definitely not easy — having hard conversations are never fun.
If a friend is hurt or upset by something I did or said, I’d want them to tell me because I care about their feelings. I want the opportunity to listen, own what’s mine, apologize and grow in the relationship.
So I ask myself, “Then why was I hesitant to be honest with friends about how I feel?”
Someone said to me, “You can be honest but you won’t have many friends left”. Maybe meaning that I’ll be alone or not have many friends.
Yes, the fear of people not liking me — not approving me used to matter a whole lot. It took me a long time to be ok with it and now, the fear of being judged is no longer more important than the need to connect deeper.
I’d rather have a handful of real relationships than people pleasing the world (that’s a sure formula for major disappointment).
I don’t think having authentic conversations with friends is about being self-righteous. This is about being authentic to myself and others.
Why do we expect people to be mind readers?
How could someone trust me if they don’t know how I really feel — if they don’t know that I’m upset. If I pretend that I’m OK.
If don’t let them in, how could they see the real me?
Because if a friendship or relationship is NOT based on the authenticity of each other, then what is the foundation really made of?
The big lesson I’ve learned here: In order to get there…In order to be honest with others, first, I have to be truly honest with myself. To honor my feelings, my intuition and the not-so-pretty truth. That’s where I begin.
So this year’s theme “Speak My Truth” so far is going strong. And man, it might piss some people off.
…and I’m OK with that.
Cheers to my friends who value truth, compassion and authenticity!