Let it all in.

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Bear with me, y’all, for I’m feeling a LOT of feels. And have a lot to say. I should probably be breaking this up into several different posts, but the ideas seemed to all sort of blend together. So, let me just start at the beginning.

A couple weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from an old co-worker of mine who had read my most recent blog posts. In those, I alluded to things that I’ve been struggling with, and while I didn’t provide details, I said enough for people to read between the not so dense lines.

In her message, she wanted to see if we could get together as she just may be going through some of the same things that I am. While we had bonded over crazy clients at our old agency, we had never developed the kind of relationship where we were sharing those kind of personal details. The kind where you really learn who a person is, what their struggles are, what keeps them up at night.

So last week, we got together for a quick lunch during the work day, and realized that, in fact, we share more in common than we thought. Suddenly, this person turned from simply an old colleague to someone who I could relate to in a way that I can’t with so many others because of the similar things with which we struggle. Things that don’t haunt everyone else.

Or so I thought.

The week progresses, and I’m texting with a friend from high school. We got in a discussion about essential oils, and I told her I was anxious to find more holistic remedies for some physical and mental ailments that I’ve had most of my life. As we were chatting, we realized that – lo and behold – we shared a lot in common when it came to the issues I was sharing with her. In the span of a week, I feel like I had somehow uncovered two brand new friendships, because of what was shared between us.

Fast forward to last night, where I was invited to spend the evening with 60+ ‘bad bishes’ in Columbus. Sixty powerful, creative, intelligent, philanthropic and supportive women from around town who care more about lifting each other up than tearing each other down. We got together for an evening of cocktails and networking over a fabulous dinner at The Kitchen in Columbus.

When we were going around the room doing introductions – yes, all 60 of us! – everyone had something really funny, quippy or sweetly personal to share during their designated 10 seconds. But when I stood up, I decided to scrap quip for truth.

And truthfully, I was terrified. I spent my entire childhood on the stage and I’ve been in PR for 12 years. Someone like me should have NO fear of these situations. This girl used to LOVE a crowd. But lately, these large social events have caused me major anxiety. I was “thisclose” to backing out of the event, but forced myself to go.

After I introduced myself by saying just how scared I was to be there, I was approached by so many people afterward who just wanted to say hello and learn more about me and why I was there. I wasn’t being singled out – it was the whole point of the event in the first place – but I think people could relate to having anxieties around events like that. Because let’s face it – some of them were likely just as nervous as I was.

What I’ve learned in this past week is just how much we can heal and grow and be lifted by others – and lift others in return – by simply opening up and sharing what we sometimes think can’t be shared. Being honest, and bare, and forthcoming. And trying to relate to other human beings beyond the superficial. Our friendships become far less superficial, and far more necessary.

So often we hide behind these images we’ve built for ourselves. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. To shed my online persona in order to be more real and true to who I am. To show that what I say on social media doesn’t always paint a total picture of who I am.

People are so often scared of what others will think of them, but, in reality, what people crave is authentic connection. People want to know that they’re not alone in whatever they’re going through. But it takes two people opening up and sharing things about themselves that may be scary to do so.

I am so proud of my former co-worker (now friend!) for reaching out to me and opening up in a way that she hasn’t always been able to with others. As a result, she may be starting her own blog and is thinking of creating an amazing group that inspires other women to connect and share (and you guys – it’s gonna involve yoga and wine, and seriously, WHAT is more amazing than that?). I can’t wait to support her on her journey.

I am so grateful for my friend from high school for opening up and showing me that we have more in common than maybe we have always believed. And that by letting nearly two years go by, without seeing each other, we missed out on a support system likely both of us could have needed.

And I’m inspired by the 60 bad bishes in Columbus who showed last night what it means to truly come together as a community. To show that when we’re real and true and honest and open and committed to building up rather than tearing down, that some of us who are scared may be healed and become whole.

So call the person you’ve been meaning to call for months. Don’t just talk about the weather, or your next vacation, or the latest series on Netflix. Those things are OK, but talk about things that matter. Things that may be scary to think about, much less talk about. Reach out to the person on Facebook who’s doing a terrible job of masking the fact that she’s had a shitty few months. You may not know her or even like her, but you could help her.

And if that girl is you?

I say let it all in, girl. Let it all in.

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