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April 30th is National Honesty Day. A little background about it is that it challenges us to be truthful in every single thing that we do. Given the fact that we’ve all lied at least once in our lives and we’ve probably come to know the different kinds of lies that people tell, this day encourages truthfulness and instills confidence. On this honesty day, it’s important for me to honor my business and privacy in honesty, which does not, by any means give anyone an invitation to say I am keeping something from them.

I consider myself a very honest individual in that I selectively share my personal life information with others. Instead of just listening to young adults of my age or to my family, there are many health professionals that I look up to. One of the mental health professionals being Minaa B. (LMSW), a therapist, wellness coach, self-care and mental health educator, writer, and host of the “Your Body, Your Story” women’s health podcast. She has influenced me by staying true to myself while also keeping my personal life private. However, when it comes to my story, I am willing to share certain aspects, but I don’t consider myself an open book to just anyone or to even just my acquaintances. I make sure whoever I’m sharing my information with is someone I can trust and rely on like a close friend, mentor, support group, counselor, or supervisor. Minaa along with many other mental health professionals have allowed for me to differentiate privacy from secrecy.

I tend to get annoyed when people assume that they could just come up to me and ask me about my personal life without me giving them that privilege. This usually happens with people I’ve never met before or people who have seen me around. My willingness to share a piece of my life depends on the relationship I have with that other person. Moreover, depending on what it is they want to know about me, I may or may not disclose that information. I’ve had several situations in the past where my ‘friends’ felt that it was okay to share my business with someone else whether I was present in the room or not. This not only affected our relationship, but it also made me realize that I can’t easily trust everyone. Most people respect the part of me that keeps business to myself, but others find it odd. It’s not for everyone to understand, if you’re like me, then you can comprehend this. I’m choosing to live my truth honestly and selectively.

Minaa has taught me to be okay with keeping a public side of myself as well as a private one. She says, “Normalize selective sharing. Everyone you know does not have to be in your business. Privacy and secrecy are not the same. You are the one who is in control of choosing who has access to you and your personal information. Discern wisely.” She proceeds, “Gentle reminder: you get to determine who knows everything about you, who knows your business and intimate details about your life. You get to decide that. Everyone you know may not have the capacity to hold your business, keep it sacred, or respond to it without judgement.” That message speaks for itself and I hope that one day everyone is able to find clarity in this.

I remember I used to think that I was required to tell my friends everything, but that’s where I went wrong. I’m setting much more boundaries now because of another inspiring mental health professional that has influenced me during my journey of honesty. She is Nedra Glover Tawwab (MSW, LCSW), a licensed therapist, founder and owner of the group therapy practice— Kaleidoscope Counseling, boundary/sought-after relationship expert, content creator, writer, and New York Times best-selling author. She has taught me that: as I shift, so will my friendships, that it’s okay to outgrow people, that at different points in life I will need different things from different friends, and that I decide whether or not to tell my friends everything (which is not an obligation). You too can be honest today and everyday by being assertive, respecting your privacy, and staying truthful to yourself and others.

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Rowan '22

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