This morning, I had coffee with one of my best friends. She’s someone who doesn’t let me off the hook even when I’m squirming with discomfort in conversation; she’s fearless that way. I don’t always love it when we get into a challenging topic, because being pushed is never exactly fun. But I value it, because her push is my nudge to grow.
We’ve earned our way to this place of authenticity and trust – to a level of mutual respect that allows us to push and challenge one another so that we both can sort through the biggest questions in our hearts. She knows me to my core – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I know her. And there is such relief in knowing that we don’t have to uphold an image when we’re together.
I’ve been in conversations with a lot of women through my Life Design work who are craving this kind of authentic connection. They often feel like they don’t have people they can be totally real with, but they’re scared to let down their guard because they may be judged. Or they’re worried that no one else wants to go deeper with them – that it’s easier to talk about the latest television show or our busy schedules or the restaurant they tried last week than it is to talk about their hopes and dreams and struggles.
It IS easier to play at the surface. And there’s a time and place for that kind of small talk in our everyday lives. But most of us yearn to talk about what’s REALLY on our minds with someone who can help us sort through it.
Building this kind of authentic connection doesn’t happen spontaneously. You can’t just walk up to a colleague or a fellow school parent and strike up a conversation and expect the relationship to unfurl on command. But it has to begin somewhere. Someone has to start the process, extend the invitation, create the space. Then you can establish a level of trust and build upon it over time.
And it does takes time. You are not going to get into one of these conversations that lead to growth on the sideline of a soccer game or in the dropoff line at school. You are not going to get there at a girls night out with fifteen other friends in the mix. You’ll need time and space and both of your undivided attention to build the kind of relationship you desire. That’s a tall order in our hurried lives, but it’s the truth.
Just as it takes courage to dive deeply under water, it takes courage to forge these deeper connections. Sometimes when you’re in the deep, you can hardly breathe. But there’s such beauty there, and you have to get deep enough to discover it.