On a school day like any other, you walk in and sit down next to your friend. As usual, she looks worried and unhappy. In fact, she doesn’t even notice you. You tap her on the shoulder and ask her what is wrong. She hastily rearranges her facial expression into an unconvincing smile, assuring you that she’s fine. On the surface, you accept her explanation. But on the inside, you sigh, concerned for your friend. You and your friend are playing the roles you play every day: wearing outer shells of happiness but being full of darkness on the inside.
Openness between you and your friend would have enabled you to help her. Even if there was nothing you could do to aid her physically, it is likely that simply telling you what was weighing on her heart would heal some of her wounds. In addition, openness would have created trust between you and her. Someone who knows all about you can readily empathize with you and will be more likely to give you herself in return.
Also, openness can help you make friends and strengthen existing relationships. Having nothing to hide lets people see and love the “real you”. It shows people that you are entrusting them with the greatest thing you have to give: your heart. Worrying about what others will think of you is understandable. But if someone is a true friend, he will love you despite your faults and help you become a better person. I have a friend to whom I tell everything. To him I pour out my sorrows and worries; he listens to me and helps me. I trust him more than any other.
Openness does not mean you should automatically trust everyone, however. Nor does it mean that you should be brutal in your honesty and tell people, for example, “I hate your haircut” or “Yes, it makes you look fat”. It simply means that you should not wear a mask. You do not have to tell all of your secrets to everyone you meet to be open. Rather, show the majority of yourself to the world and all of yourself to your friends when the time is right. You can still trust without being foolish.
Being open can relieve you of the oppressive burden of maintaining a constant mask. It can increase your friends’ trust in you. It can bless you with powerful empathy for the people around you. But, most importantly, being open can soothe the terrible pain that all of us have felt for some reason or another. Telling a loving friend about what hurts you will hurt for a little, but after the initial ache of recalling, the pain will be mellowed by the love of your friend. Openness goes hand in hand with compassion, and together they help everyone keep living for another day.
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