I have been living the college life for about a month now. Every day that I have been on campus has been filled with new things. New classes, new routines, new adventures, and new people. Meeting people is one of my favorite things. I love getting to know them and hearing about their lives, but it’s that moment when the surface-level conversations get deeper that I love the most. When I feel comfortable enough to talk about things more meaningful than what I had for lunch or what my favorite class is, that’s when the friendship gets cool.
I had this thought the other day about authenticity. I was thinking about how much I value vulnerability and depth in relationships, and how much I love people who can be real with me. The kind of people who answer the question “How are you?” with an answer that is sincere. My thought turned into a question. Is it possible to be too real? When someone asks me how I’m doing, is it really okay for me to tell them about how terrible my day was? Or should I just reply with the standard, “Oh, I’m fine! How are you?” and move on? What level of friendship do I have to reach to be able to be honest about how hard life can be?
It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes, but once you tell someone that you’re not doing well, it’s best not to dwell on it. If they ask you more about it, that’s a different story. Answer their questions, because if they’re asking, odds are they are genuinely interested. As long as you keep yourself from excessive complaining or hurtful gossip, it is 100% okay to let your negative emotions out. Also, remember to follow your instinct. If you feel like you can’t trust someone, don’t. Being vulnerable is important, but it is okay to keep some things to yourself.
This week, challenge yourself to be real. If you aren’t okay, tell someone. Don’t say you’re fine when you’re not. Get that negativity off of your shoulders. Don’t let the weight of it hold you down. Friends exist to carry that burden with you. Just don’t give it all to them. Be real, but also remember to be considerate. Everyone has worries, and everyone has bad days. It’s not just you. When you tell your friends that you’re struggling, and they come alongside you to lift you up and encourage you, remember that. Remember that moment the next time that they are having a bad day. Be a good listener; let them talk. Let them be real too! It is exhausting to be “Good. How are you?” all the time.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Maybe you don’t relate to this right now because life is good, and that’s great! But this challenge still applies to you. If you are full of joy, show it. Smile at everyone. Give good hugs. Throw some positivity around, because Lord knows we all need more of that. If you are thrilled about life, don’t hide that enthusiasm. Be real.
Going back to my original question, “Is it possible to be too real?” No. I don’t think so. Being open and honest is so much more fulfilling than striving for perfection. If we could learn to take off our masks and be real with each other, our lives would be so much easier.
words and photo by Lucy Boyland