I’m a reader. On my flight home from Connecticut last night, I made good progress on the book I’m reading right now – The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan. It’s a novel about a group of former Harvard students gathering for their 20-year reunion. It’s timely for who I am and where I am in life right now. I read along and was forced to pull out a pen when I read the following:
People aren’t cars to be traded in and up. They’re people. With complex emotional inner lives and filial ties and psyches that are far too easily bruised.
I believe this, and I believe it more and more as I get older.
This weekend, I caught up with two old friends, one from high school and one from my early days as a lawyer. Today, I had lunch with another friend from high school I hadn’t seen in years and years. My conversations were lovely, and in each one, I realized again just how well I picked my friends long ago.
I love people who are willing to share their emotional inner lives. In Connecticut, my friend Sarah spoke openly about her days in boarding school and the more than twenty years that had passed since then. She didn’t sugarcoat her experience or tip-toe in any way around the hard stuff. She stated her experience matter-of-factly and, by being genuine about the good and the bad, invited me to do the same. I appreciated that about her because I’m not always willing or able to talk about the hard stuff.
At lunch today, I tried my hand at being open about the hard stuff and acknowledging things that aren’t perfect in my life. And you know what? Lunch was lovely. I didn’t feel the need to perform or to make myself seem like anything more than who I am. I felt like I caught up with an old friend in a genuine way. We couldn’t touch on everything in ninety minutes, but it felt good to talk and laugh and communicate without a need to paint a picture of rainbows and sunflowers all around.
I’m at a point in life where I’m ready to invite people into my inner life and to be willing to expose my psyche that is far too easily bruised. I think the trick is being smart in selecting people to trust with those things. The old friends – the ones who cared for me as a kid and have continued to demonstrate a genuine interest in who that kid became – give me a really good place to start.