Almost two years ago (!), I sent an email to my friend Nicole asking her advice. The email she wrote back was real. It was full of tough love and things I needed to hear. The section she wrote in red was like a punch to the gut.

Although I thanked her for her thoughts, I didn’t turn to her again for a long time. I wasn’t mad at her or anything, I just couldn’t take it at that moment. But today I opened that email again. And today I appreciate that Nicole wrote in that email. At that time many of my friends were saying, “oh, honey. It’ll be OK.” Nicole didn’t do that. She got raw. She got real. She forced me to open my eyes and take a look around.

And she made me more like that.

For better or worse, I’m much more direct today than I have ever been. And maybe that makes me a snob. Yes, I think you’re missing out if you never leave your suburban hometown. Yes, I think you’re boring if you never challenge yourself to go bigger or bolder. No, I don’t think you’re “traveling” if you just hit up the tourist spots in popular cities. Maybe if you hate your job, it means you should look for a job you’d be better at.

I’ll never again just tell someone what he or she wants to hear. And I realize not everyone appreciates that, but any other way would not be genuine. Life is messy, that’s another thing Nicole taught me. But messy doesn’t mean bad. Sometimes it stings, but sometimes hearing the truth opens doors to better. We stop holding on to what might be and go out find something that is. Then we look back and wonder why we were holding on so tightly to something when better was right there all along.

Some of the most defining moments in my life were born of messes. And today, I am so grateful that I’m a person of depth and rich in experience. And if that makes me a self-involved bitch, so be it.

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