There is something so therapeutic about catching up with an old friend. A certain kind of magic happens when after years of drifting in different directions you once again find yourself in the same space. This was one of those beautiful moments for me. A friend from my past found herself in the new city I had moved to a couple years prior. We sat in that old diner, sipped on our cold drinks and begin to fill each other in on what we missed.
After sharing her life, she tilted her head to the side and said “What about you? What’s been happening? You look good! You seem happy.” I smiled. I wasn’t sure where to begin. Truth was so much had happened in my life since I had last seen her. The past couple of years were of journey of inner healing for me. I went from secretly hating the girl in the mirror to actually embracing the skin I was in. I went from constantly questioning if I had any worth at all to believing that I was born for a reason. I went from thinking no one cared what I had to say to understanding I had a voice.
I prattled on excitedly. I was a new person. For the first time in my life I felt truly happy. I could honestly say that I loved myself. I talked about all the ways I finally felt free. I laughed over some of the ridiculous lies I had believed. I cried talking about some of the fears I faced. I was in the middle of wiping my eyes when I noticed her expression. She looked stunned. This threw me off. “Is everything ok?” I asked. She immediately perked up ” Oh yeah! Everything is fine. It’s just…I never would have guessed you had a insecure day in your life.”
She went on to talk about why this surprised her. She started naming off my talents. ” I mean, you are so good at so many things. You sing. You play piano beautifully. You write. You are a great communicator.” I nodded. “Yes, I do all those things, but that didn’t mean I was confident.” She looked flabbergasted. “But… you are pretty. You are well liked. You had all these different guys who wanted to be with you before you got married.” I cut her off. “None of that mattered. I didn’t like who I was. Not a soul alive could’ve convince me I wasn’t ugly. All the men in the world could have been pursuing me, but I still would have believed I was unlovable.”
Things aren’t always what they seem.
I think this is why I have always been drawn to leaders and celebrities. While some people look at people in the limelight with an extra critical eye, I can’t help but think how lonely it must feel sometimes to be on top. While others long to get close enough to ride the coat tails of others success, I long to get close enough to ask how they are doing. Like REALLY doing.
I know that life is grand on the outside. They are clearly gifted. This is why the spotlight is on them. I, like every other person, am impressed with their talents and abilities, but I’m less concerned about just getting an autograph. I want to know who is the person when the camera lights aren’t flashing. I know there are huge crowds currently singing their praises, but are they lonely? Are they happy? Do they know their worth?
Sometimes the ones who seem to be floating in their talent are actually drowning in it. Sometimes the fear of being used and exploited keep them from opening up. Sometimes public successes prevent people from seeing private battles. You can be surrounded by affirmation and people dying to have your life and still feel unhappy. You can be surrounded by seemingly everything and still have that deep longing in your heart that’s unmet. I know this because I lived this way for many years.
Now please understand, I am in NO way comparing my tiny wins in life with the blaring successes of others. Although I have things I am good at (as we all do) those talents haven’t taken me to lofty impressive places. I have no trophies to my name. I’m am far from well known. I am simply a wife and mother of soon to be three who has these things in life she is passionate (and crazy) enough to go after. Yet as ordinary as my life has been, I was still met with my friend’s stunned looked.
I say all this, because lately my heart keeps stirring for the talented ones. I’m talking about the ones who find themselves constantly praised for their abilities and successes. I’m thinking of the ones who by many standards seem to have it altogether. Here’s to the ones who seem to get all these impressive opportunities and all of the social media likes. Here’s to the ones who have tons of people in their life, but they aren’t sure sometimes if they have actual friends. Here’s to the popular ones that feel lonely. Here’s to the ones who are silent screaming behind their bright smiles.
I want to remind you that your talent is not there to excuse your humanity. It was never meant to keep all eyes on you, but prevent you from actually being seen. You have the right to heal. You also get the privilege of having the ones you can be real with. Find your tribe. All the fans in the world can’t replace the richness of a true friend. I’m may not know the ins and outs of wild success, but I’m familiar with raw humanity. And I’m not stunned you have it too.