Saying the “right” stuff vs being Real
“When a friend comes to me because they’re upset about something I did, I want to say the right thing. So I think and think and analyze the facts. How can I take responsibility for what happened? How can I be mature about this situation? How can I address this in a way that makes my friend feel heard?
I am trying to be perfect. The perfect friend, daughter, sister, employee, partner. And so I want to say the perfect thing.
But I’m realizing, when I try to say the perfect thing, I sacrifice saying the true thing. And by focusing only on the other person’s experience, I give up myself.
I’ve always felt more comfortable with older people. Even at age 8 or 9, I remember at family functions feeling more comfortable talking to my aunts and uncles then I did talking to my cousins. And then when I was in university, I started hanging out friends who were 5, 10 and even 20 years older then me.
People have often told me I’m wise beyond my years and it has made me swell with pride. And I’m not trying to say I’m not wise at all, but I’m saying that some of my “wisdom” has been me pretending.
In the situation with my friend being upset with me, when I do “the mature thing,” I pretend that I’m not hurt and angry about what my friend said. I pretend I’m unaffected and objectively analyze the situation. I don’t allow myself to express how I really feel.
And as this dawns on me, my life cracks open. I’m flooded with memories of times I pretended to be okay or mature when really I was terrified. Times when I took care of others, even though I didn’t know how to care of myself.
And I feel grief for the years I’ve spent pretending. Faking a perfect life when really I was sad or angry and needed help.
And for me, this pretending has become living a lie. I have earned the titles of perfect daughter, wise older sister, good friend, and excellent employee. I pretended to be wise and you believed me.
But I’m here today to tell you: I can’t do it anymore. That pretending has left me brittle, withered and cracked. It has left me twisted, nauseous and resentful. It has left me more dead than I am alive. So I’m taking my life back.
And I know it will be messy. And I might say something that you don’t like. And you might find yourself asking, “What happened to Bryn? This isn’t like her…”
But I’m here to tell you I care about you just as deeply as I always have. And I’m here to apologize for pretending before. And I’m here to unveil a new and truer me.
And my hope is that as I become more true to me, it will inspire you to become more true to you. My hope is that we can all be more real together. Because one thing I know for sure is that with realness comes depth. Connection swells and deepens. Bonds of friendship and love become stronger.
And sometimes our relationship may be incredibly uncomfortable because we’re angry or we’re vulnerable or we’re doing whatever emotion we like the least. And some days we won’t be “best friends” because something else will be going on.
But overtime our friendship will be even stronger because we will know it is not made of glass.
Pine trees have heartwood in the centre which, despite the beautiful name, is dead and hardened. If the wind is strong enough, they crack and break never to be repaired. Sadly, some relationships are like pine trees.
But I want relationships that are like palm trees – where the trunk is alive all the way through. And when a palm tree that is flattened to the ground after a storm it stands back up.
I want to know that I can be me, and you can be you and our relationship will stand back up. So let’s do this…
Can any of you relate? Do you struggle with perfectionism and the anxiety that comes with it?”
By Bryn Bamber
I get nervous around the “perfect people”. I need honest people in my life. There are too many perfect people out there and it makes it unsafe for me to be my imperfect human self. But I also relate to being that perfect person. I still have a habit of apologizing and taking responsibility for stuff that I did not do wrong just to keep the other person from rejecting me. Sigh….. I normally do not like posting other people’s work on my blog, but I found this essay up above to be important.