The new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has captured the attention of adults young and old over the last couple of months. Haven’t heard of it? The show revolves around teenage Hannah Baker, who created 13 cassette tapes to explain why she would later commit suicide, each tape meant for a different person, or, reason why. It’s full of inappropriate scenes and bad language, but as a former teacher, youth worker, and person who’s been lost myself, its drama and darkness engages you to keep watching even when it’s difficult. Although Chris and I thoroughly enjoyed the show, I do not recommend students watching it alone. If they are, be next to them, have the conversation, and use it as teaching and learning tool.
My biggest issue with the show (and also a problem for many people if you’ve read any of the latest media posts), is that not only does the show (sort of) glorify suicide, it heavily implies and sends the memo that you can get your own message across better in death than in life. Character Hannah rarely confronts her friends face-to-face during her life. We don’t see her sharing how she feels, how she’s been hurt, etc, yet she has no qualms explaining her feelings on the tapes, which they listen to after her death, once it’s too late.
This is nothing short of devastating. NOW is the time to be REAL and TRANSPARENT, not after death. I’m not saying we have to go around sharing our deepest fears and biggest mistakes with every person we meet. That would be weird. Unless you have a blog called CrazyMaddeningworld, and then, well – you ARE weird.
So, after talking with friends and a getting a quick Facebook poll, here are “13 Reasons Why” you should be transparent (in no particular order).
You’ll have more energy.
Pretending to be something you’re not is exhausting. By staying true to who you are, you’ll use less energy trying to be fake or put up a front.
You’ll laugh more.
When we acknowledge no one is perfect and we’re honest about our mistakes with others, we can laugh about it. You can own it – they’re no longer laughing at you, but with you.
People will see you as trustworthy.
It’s hard to get close to someone you can’t trust. If you hear your friend say “I’m OK” to a coworker, only to bash that same coworker behind her back a minute later, it’s uncomfortable. You realize she wasn’t honest with her colleague, and it makes you wonder how often (or not) she is honest with you. When people see you share your true feelings and opinions even when it’s difficult, they will trust you more.
Communication is easier.
Be someone who is known for your authenticity and ability to speak truthfully. This makes you more approachable and easier to talk to, and there’s no passive aggressive/read-between-the-lines stuff…’cuz let’s be honest – ain’t nobody got time for that!
It sets a positive example for your kids.
From the earliest age, we teach and preach “Be yourself!” to kids. Walk the talk and show your kids (or students, or neighbors) the importance of being REAL, that it doesn’t mean everyone has to like you, and that it won’t mean anything is wrong with you. The sooner your children realize no one is perfect, the better. By being transparent, we show our kids that every person is made unique, and that should be celebrated.
There’s less places to hide.
Secrets, addictions, lies…no, not just an episode of Breaking Bad. Anyone can fall into a bad place, but when we live a life of truth, it’s easier to ask for help. If we slowly allow dishonesty into our lives it multiplies fast. You will save yourself a lot of hurt and pain in the future if you remove the barriers from the get-go and openly share your struggles with someone you can trust. There’s nothing more isolating than feeling alone in your lies.
Your relationships will be more meaningful.
This is no surprise. Healthy relationships are built on love, respect and honesty. When we are vulnerable with others, it draws us closer. Some of my closest friends are not always the people I’ve known for years; more often, it’s those who’ve bared their souls.
You’ll know who your true friends are.
By choosing transparency, you never have to wonder if people like you for who you are. If they stick around, they surely do. If they’re looking for an escape route when the going gets rough, it wasn’t meant to be. True friends love you through the good, bad and the ugly. The end.
One word – FREEDOM!
On that same note, you don’t have to be “on” for anyone. People can either accept you for who you are, or not. Being nothing but YOU is so utterly freeing.
You’ll realize more than ever that you’re not alone.
Someone hurt your feelings? Share it in love. Most likely you may have done the same to them unintentionally. Talk it out, forgive, and move on. Until I finally opened up about my mental health issues, I had no idea how many people struggled with anxiety and depression. When I shared about my previous miscarriages, unborn babies came to the surface, women sharing their heartbreak. Be honest about your emotions and experiences; you won’t be alone.
Because you’re not alone, it’s easier to overcome obstacles.
Life is hard. Things happen that are out of our control. Our biggest trials are not meant to be fought alone. This is where community comes in. When you realize you’re not alone and you have a support system in place, life’s obstacles won’t seem as overwhelming. And even if they are, you won’t go through it by yourself.
People will respect you.
It’s not easy being honest. In fact, it’s usually hard. Choosing transparency makes you vulnerable, and that can be a scary feeling. Don’t be afraid to share your true reality – because it takes guts, you’ll gain some mad respect.
All it takes is the courage of one person to be honest to create the domino effect. Think twice before you continue to display only the pretty parts of your life on social media. Comparison is the thief of joy! People struggle because they’re comparing your perfect and unattainable Facebook life to their real one. I’m guilty of this as well. Sharing your truth is inspirational and encourages others to do the same.
So, that’s it. I look back on my life 4 ½’ years ago, November of 2012, fetal position on the kitchen floor, my very own “reasons why” I might not make it another day spilling over through my tears. Emotionally exhausted from trying to be the person I thought everyone wanted me to be, I was stuck in an ugly people-pleasing cycle that spurred on my anxiety and depression like a wildfire. I was convinced life was too hard. I was wearing too many hats, not saying no, refusing to allow God to take the burden He so desperately wanted to bear. It was a wake up call. Because I had people in my life who cared, I was rescued.
I’m lucky that even when I wasn’t strong enough to be transparent, other people could see through me. But, this isn’t always the case. So let’s allow each day to be another day to practice honesty and authenticity with everyone we meet.