A friend tells you what you want to hear, a kick-ass friend tells you what you need to hear.
It takes an incredible amount of trust and vulnerability to let people see our personal warts—the blemishes we develop over a lifetime as a result of bad choices, actions that are inconsistent with our value systems, embarrassments, self-imposed pain as well as hurt inflected by the people closest to us. Taking off masks and allowing our most authentic selves to be seen takes courage, but it also takes a reciprocal trust you can’t share with a casual friend.
I’m blessed to have several kick-ass friends in my life. They are the people who will offer a supportive shoulder, hug me when I’m down and humor my mental-stew muddling. These are also the same people who call me out when I’m making bad choices, when I’m not being the best me I can be—basically they are the people who have no problem telling me very directly when I’m being an idiot. These are the people I need in my life even more than I need a cheerleader or sympathetic ear.
It’s not easy when my kick-ass friends kick my ass. In fact it hurts. I have to breathe deeply, open my mind and not fall into a pit of defensiveness. I have to listen and remember constructive criticism comes from an intentional place of well-meaning, of love and support. Relinquishing enough self-control and being openly vulnerable with someone else, letting down my guard, is always my most challenging personal struggle.
A few days ago one of my kick-ass friends confronted me about why I was no longer writing creatively. I threw out a litany of reasons, excuses really, all of which he basically brushed aside and instead of buying into my pity party, he pelted me between the eyes with several “remember whens” of different times in my life when I faced adversity and won, and then he challenged me—always a sure-fire way to tap my pride and get me to take action. He challenged me to write something, anything, by sundown today. “I don’t care what you write,” he said. “I don’t even care if it’s one line just to say you’re alive, but it needs to be something because you’re floundering, you’ve lost some of your confidence and you’re letting fear dictate what you do. That’s not who you are.”
I have about an hour left before sundown.
What about you—do you have friends you trust enough to let you know when you’re being an idiot? Are you a kick-ass friend to someone else, or do you shrink from the responsibility of giving pivotal, honest feedback when you know your friend is not being honest with herself?