As an adult person, I’ve developed a reputation for saying a bit more than is always necessary. When I was a teenager and very wrapped up in a rather cult-y church situation, I made sure never to share anything with anybody, including even small bits about myself. I was a master secret keeper, convinced that it was my religious duty to keep my gaze focused on others and away from myself, and that was how I learned to have relationships. I am often perplexed that I managed to have any friends at all, which I did, though they sometimes questioned me about my never-ending optimism and other-centeredness. What can I say – it was a weird time; I was a teenager; I was doing the best that I could.
When I moved on from that part of my life and into my twenties, I realized that it was very important for my own health that I begin getting to know myself, and sharing what I discovered with people that I loved and trusted. I spent a long time practicing that skill, and ended up swinging the pendulum in the other direction entirely, sharing everything that I could in an effort to be transparent and authentic with people. One friend commented to me, “Man, you just LEAD with the messy bits, don’t you?”. I did. Again, it was a weird time; I was doing the best that I could.
Now, as I near forty, I try to hang the pendulum somewhere squarely in the middle, working always towards balance (in my very imperfect sort of way). In this (weird) time of life, I make the choice to trust completely in the people in my life that have earned their stripes, sharing with them all of the good healthy bits, and the messy bits as well. In addition, I make it a point to stay in touch with what I want and need for myself and from other people, to identify those things by name, and to say them things out loud. This is a difficult and tedious process with some guesswork; sometimes it’s hard to really identify what we need, and then equally as terrifying to actually say it, but I find that if I don’t do those things, I end up feeling both dissatisfied and dishonest. It brings up elements from those church-y days when sharing was shameful, and that’s not a way of life I’d like to re-establish, or a time in life I’d like to revisit.
It is my goal to move towards transparency, honesty, and authenticity, as much as possible, always.
Are you asking for the things that you want and need?