I wonder what it’d be like to be a private person. I have no desire to share intimate details of my life with the entire world on social media or this blog, but when it comes to my friends, nothing is off limits. Last week, I asked a girl how her roommate/close friend felt about a certain dating situation, and she said, “I don’t really know. She’s a pretty private person.”
…Help me understand.
How can you be “close friends” with someone if you don’t tell them about sometimes trying to look at your own Facebook profile as though you’re a stranger, or admit that you haven’t showered in three full days? If you are close friends with someone, shouldn’t they know the details of your boyfriend’s chest hair and that you ate both Chipotle and Five Guys for lunch? What is friendship if not discussing that weird dream you had about Victoria Grayson or a graphic account of your visit to the doctor?
In my little world, “privacy” and “friendship” don’t belong in the same sentence. All of my close girlfriends have seen me sans-clothing so many times that they don’t even seem to notice anymore when I strip down to change in the middle of a serious conversation. Most continue eye contact. And at this point, they think something is severely wrong if 72 hours have passed and I haven’t told them a dramatic story about a simple visit to the grocery store or about the cougars of Virginia Beach attacking my obliviously friendly boyfriend. I get concerned phone calls if I answer a text with one word, plus I sense disappointment when I say “hello” without following it with “ugh I have SO much to tell you.”
I like it this way.
Not saying that people who keep their waxing experiences to themselves are lonely or shallow, but I’ve found that when there are no boundaries, friendships become more authentic. The more I share, the more my friends share, and the more we can read each other’s minds to understand how to uplift the other person. Even if what we talk about is ridiculous and seemingly meaningless, those exchanges keep the door wide open for deeply serious conversations. If we can discuss the pros and cons of thong underwear, then there are no walls keeping us from discussing our greatest fears, genuine emotions about difficulties in life, and experiences during which we fall short and feel guilt. Topics that would normally be bottled up out of fear of what another person might think are more easily brought to the surface by someone who knows what the combination of sushi and tequila does to your body.
Talking through how to handle hurt, getting advice about poor decisions, and simply venting about something that is bothering us is healthy. It lightens the load and decompresses our souls. Having a trusted source that you know will never judge is a priceless gift. For me, I have about 30 of those trusted sources, so my soul generally feels incredibly supported. That support is how I got (and get) through losing my mother, how I deal with remnants of negativity from my past, and handle the feeling of failure that periodically pops up in the mind of any mid-twenty-year-old (except Taylor Swift and Emma Watson). Although nearly all 30 of my trusted sources also share with me about their lives, I never feel overwhelmed. I only feel joy that we can mutually absorb one another’s pain, embarrassment, concerns, and successes.
Speaking of successes, being unconditionally close with someone isn’t simply all silliness mixed with seriousness. It also means getting to unapologetically share triumphs and excitement. I LOVE that my girlfriends know that I won’t think they’re being stuck up or self-absorbed when they accomplish something awesome or are overjoyed by an event. Your boss told you that your input was incredibly valuable in the meeting this morning? You’re the smartest, best employee ever! A guy at a bar told you that you’re the most gorgeous girl he’s ever seen? DUH! It’s because you are! You ran three miles after work? Whatttt you are so inspirational! It’s never a fake reaction…I sincerely feel joy when my friends are proud of themselves or tell me about a situation that made them feel special. I love knowing that they feel comfortable telling me about those things instead of buying into the whole concept that we should remain humble all the time. Their happiness makes me happy! Plus, I know that I can tell them when I’m excited about an essay I wrote or that I finally taught myself how to french braid!
Quality always beats quantity, but a high quantity of high quality friends certainly makes life feel incredibly full and satisfying—at least in my experience. I am so grateful that I was born with no shame and a desire to be close with other people. And I urge anyone who might be a little more reserved in their friendships to really let their friends in. Not Facebook friends…this isn’t about oversharing in statuses or being vulgar in public, rather it means choosing to develop an unequivocal closeness to specifically designated people in your life. Or if you’re me, with the random girl at a party that seems cool and nice. (To read exactly how I feel about oversharing on social media, I bring you way back to my first blog, Shannon’s NYC.)
Knowing that so many of my insanely supportive friends read my blog on the reg and even challenge me to write more often out of love and encouragement of my future, I’ll end by saying thanks to you! I hope our weird level of openness encourages other readers of this post. You’re my favorite part of life. Love you long time!