“Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” — C.S. Lewis
One of my closest friends and I first connected over blotting the grease off our pizza with an inordinate amount of napkins. Disgusting, I know. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this? We were both so relieved to discover the other person does this so we felt a lot less embarrassed over this odd pizza eating habit. We still laugh about that today joking that was how we knew we’d be best friends.
It’s easy to connect with others over shared interests, favorite hobbies, or finding commonality in weird habits. But what about the opposite?
Sharing the ugly and hard things we’ve been through or experienced may not be as easy. Do you google situations you’re facing searching for others who have “been there done that” and survived to tell about it? I know I have. What if there are people in your own circle who have faced a similar scenario and you could draw strength from their story?
I am an avid reader and absolutely love getting lost in a good story. I can’t imagine a world where Corrie Ten Boom, Winston Churchill and others withheld their stories from the world. Even though everyone loves to hear a good story, we are sometimes hesitant to share our own. And we most certainly tend to only share the better parts of us or only what we want people to know.
A story can only be a story if it is told!
I’ve realized like never before since entering motherhood that we ALL have a story and our stories are ongoing! I would dare venture to say everybody is either currently going through, healing from, or at the beginning stages of going through something. Your story matters, but it also matters how you tell it. When you do share your story, it tears down walls and helps others feel less alone and find peace in the fact that they are not the only one. Life is full of ups and downs and the older I get, the more I realize the beauty of sharing it. Listening is equally important. If someone is sharing something vulnerable with you, take the time to be fully present and be sensitive to the situation you’re in.
We had the spunkiest next door neighbor named Betty who passed away last year at 96 years of age. During the time she was our neighbor, Betty would share her life with me as we chatted over the fence while my boys were playing outside. Parts of her story not only brought tears to my eyes, but they also allowed me to connect with her in a much deeper way. Getting to know Betty and the things she went through gave me perspective on my own life and a beautiful friendship developed in the meantime. We connected over shared experiences even though we were 60+ years apart in age. People joke that they can’t wait to be old to say and do whatever they want. While I understand what they mean, why should we wait until we’re old to share our real life with others?
Moms have an uncanny ability to share their birth stories within five minutes of meeting someone. This used to blow my mind. However, this is a common thing that women do as I’ve witnessed time and time again. I’m originally from the Midwest and naturally tend to be a pretty private person. How can you share such a personal experience with a perfect stranger? Because it’s a shared experience. While everyone’s exact story is different, it’s also very much the same and we all crave connection.
Over the last few years, I have very hesitantly stepped out of my comfort zone in sharing the not so pretty parts of my story. But much to my surprise, sharing about my bumpy road to starting a family and where we are today has blessed me more than I ever could have imagined. Sharing stories can also squash taboos and erase assumptions about others. Why do we still look at someone else and think they have it all together or have never experienced something hard?