Last week I had a few social moments. Coffee with friends, some workouts with company, late night phone chats... time connecting with great people on a deeper level. As an extrovert, I truly love connecting with people. It makes me feel alive and full of joy. And yet, at the end of the week I was left with a nagging feeling. Something was tugging at my heart and making me feel just a bit uncomfortable. Giving it thought I realized what it was.
While connecting and opening up with my friends the stories started pouring out. My friends (and I) had shared things, real things, personal things things we had been hiding for a long time wishing we could share and now I was wondering why we all feel the need to keep so many secrets.
Before you judge and think I'm about to say spilling someone's secret is ok, NOOO! Not at all! I am also NOT referring to the "let it all out and let loose mentality" NOPE! Privacy is a great thing :)
What I do want to talk about is a bit deep perhaps...a feeling... something I realized. I'm wondering if you will relate….
Our community has a million amazing things to brag about, chessed, tznuis, caring and so much more. We are amazing. But, there is an area we fall short in. We judge so much! We have such high standards for ourselves. We are always trying to be better, and those standards trickle down.
Because we fear the judgement of others, we keep so many secrets, things we wish we could share, but are too scared to!
It is so important to stop this intense secrecy for things that are hardly “secrets” and more like personal challenges we ALL face.
Our children who are bravely working to survive school despite real learning disabilities. Our own battles with mental illness. Our financial struggles that feel so shameful. Our challenges raising children with behavior issues. Everyone is battling something. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. US. We live in a world designed for us to have imperfections that we must overcome. These challenges are an opportunity for growth and connecting to Hashem but also, our chance to connect with each other, and support one another.
I'm not saying when someone asks how you are, you need to share every detail.
What we MUST do, is remove the stigma of telling our friends that we see a therapist, that we take an antidepressant, that we are struggling to finish the month waiting for a paycheck.
The trouble is that we add to our troubles when we are too scared to share. We hide in shame and fear adding to the pain we have been given. Our fear of judgment and rejection keeps us trapped.
Can we stop? Can we all agree to hold our judgment?
Can we stop judging OURSELVES so that we can stop judging others?
Can we see our imperfections and accept them?
Can we see the imperfections of others and love them?
How amazing would it be to love ourselves even though we are imperfect! Can we look in the mirror and accept our whole self with extra pounds, credit card debt, our shyness, our tendency to oversleep... Can we just accept it all?
And then, can we spread that acceptance so that we become a safe person? A person who can share and hear life struggles and yet is still trusted to love others? A person who embraces other imperfect humans?