Why it's worth being real with people you love

A couple years ago, I had a rough, yet eye-opening week. I remember it like it was yesterday. 

It had started with a debilitating migraine and was followed by long hours and little sleep. On top of that, I had realized I wasn't happy and needed to make a big change. Ugh. There's never a convenient time for those moments of clarity. I'd attempted to avoid this realization for a while by staying busy, yet my inner voice was relentless and only became louder as I felt more exhausted. Eventually, the message was undeniable. Oh my god, what are you doing with your life? This is not sustainable. You need to get out.

By the time that Friday night arrived, I was desperate for a fun girls' night in, an evening full of homemade food, wine, movies, and plenty of distraction. These friends always made me laugh when I needed to get my mind off of work. 

Before leaving the house, I realized I looked exhausted, so instead of going over as-is like I normally would, I traded my oh-so-comfy yoga outfit for jeans and a top, put on some makeup, and brushed my hair. I even put on jewelry. For a girls night IN! That's how determined I was to look (and feel) more put together. I just hoped they wouldn't be able to tell how out of it I was, because I wasn't sure I had the energy to talk about it.

My friends and I headed over to Whole Foods to pick up some ingredients to cook our healthy dinner. We'd been in the store for only a few minutes and were browsing the sauce aisle, when my one friend turned to me. With a look of genuine concern, she asked: "How are you?" I could tell her eyes were scanning mine for something wrong. Damnit! She could tell something was up.

I tried to find the words I'm good, how are you?, but the sincerity behind her question really caught me off guard.

I felt that familiar sensation of tears welling up and it was too late now — there was no holding them back, and no fooling her anyways. I decided to let her in on what was real for me in that moment. I told her I'd had a tough week, that I was exhausted and tired of this and wanted a change, but didn't even know where to start.

She didn't offer advice, but simply hugged me and comforted me, which of course only made me cry more. I was aware of how inconvenient it felt to be crying into my friends arms in Whole Foods, yet I also knew on some level how much I'd needed this support. How much I had been withholding. How hard it'd been to keep that to myself. How when I denied my emotions space, they always found an outlet eventually. And then...how good it felt to confide in someone who could handle my emotions and truly hold space for me.

That night was a turning point, because I confronted my feelings and shared them with someone I trusted, someone who didn't judge me but rather loved me in my moment of weakness. As I acknowledged my desire for a change, I started releasing some of the shame I felt around wanting it — enough to allow myself space to start moving in a different direction.

It also deepened our friendship and reminded me again of how powerful vulnerability can build intimacy. My friend later told me, "I'm so glad we have the kind of friendship where I can ask you how you're doing and you can share so honestly with me about what's really going on. That means the world to me."

I felt the same way, and realized how much I'd rather be real than perfectly composed. I'm so glad I shared authentically with my friend that night instead of holding it together and pretending to be okay. Because letting someone see you — truly see you — is a blessing to them and to you.

Flash forward a few years. These days, as a Life & Career Coach, I have the privilege of holding this same kind of loving, judgment-free space for clients who trust me with their fears and heartfelt dreams. And whether it's in sessions, or in conversations with my friends, I consistently feel the most compassion for others when I witness their pure, unfiltered humanness. 

So today I ask you: how are you doing, really?

Is something weighing on your heart or mind? And are you willing to confide in someone that you love and trust?

If so, I encourage you to share what's real for you right now. Let your loved one in and let them see you. Raw, radiant, perfectly imperfect and totally lovable you.