When I was going through my divorce, I was talking to my sister on a particularly rough day. She told me I make it very hard to let people in and it takes a lot of work to make sure I am okay.
“It’s worth it,” she said, “but you pull away too much and emotionally close yourself off.”
This wasn’t the first time she’s called me out and let me know I was doing something that affected other people. My sister knows me better than most people, and she doesn’t feel the need to tiptoe around anything. She’s not worried she’s going to hurt my feelings. She would rather tell me her honest opinion and point out something I am doing that could be potentially harmful than not say anything. She doesn’t sit back and listen then blow sunshine up my ass and say what I want to hear — that’s taking the easy way out.
My best friend is the same way. I remember in college, I was dating a guy and she said flat out,” I’m sorry Katie, but he’s a player, you’re too good for him and I don’t trust him at all.” Ouch. Of course, I was mad and hurt, but she was right. He was a player and an all-around asshole.
There’s a reason I go to my BFF and my sister when I need to hear the truth — they aren’t afraid to give it. They present it on a silver platter, with kindness and grace, and still love me if I don’t take the advice or agree — which sometimes happens. But still they tell it to me straight.
The thing about friends who aren’t afraid to call you out is they know your friendship is strong enough to sustain the truth. They aren’t telling you these difficult things because they are mean or passive-aggressive, but because they genuinely care about you. In fact, they care about you too much to see you make a mistake you might not see coming. And they care about you too much to let you wallow in self-pity for too long if you are whining about your life and need a kick in the butt instead.
They challenge you to do something about the situation, to take care of yourself, and live your best life. They believe in you, they know what you are capable, and they know your friendship can endure their honesty even if you are (initially) hurt by their words.
As they say, the truth hurts. It can make us see ourselves in a different light, and it’s not always fun to face our fears or things we know we need to change. But having friendships like these has saved me during really hard times in my life and made the fantastic times even better. We are never done growing, we can always do better. Sometimes our friends can push us to places we need to go and that doesn’t happen by always stroking our ego or telling us everything is going to be fine.
Sometimes we need our besties to give us a kick in the ass and put a mirror in front of us so we look at the person we are, and the person they know we want to be because there are times when we can’t see that for ourselves.
These honest friends push us out of our comfort zone, and when that happens, a lot of growth can take place. And who better to grow with than a true friend?