Have you ever stopped and thought about the power of a toothbrush? Think about it. A toothbrush is part of a set of tools designed to provide you with the confidence of a fresh mouth. Confidence in the hygiene of your mouth – correlated to the appearance and smell, leads to greater confidence when meeting someone knew, smiling big or knowing that plaque isn’t going to make its way to your arteries and cause a heart attack…at least not from a lack of oral hygiene.
And smiles?! Smiles are probably the most disarming thing out there…next to laughter. Smiles are contagious, they release hormones, blah blah blah, good stuff, bunnies and unicorns. I think you get my point. A toothbrush is powerful.
The other thing I think about when thinking of a toothbrush is vulnerability. Let’s say you’re meeting someone for the first time, personal or professional, you probably want to be sure your breath is fresh and there is no parsley in your teeth. Maybe you aren’t meeting someone for the first time but you just had an amazing cheese steak sandwich that was loaded with onions for lunch and you have a team meeting right after. Granted, you probably thought this through already but sometimes the cravings grab us by the collar and we don’t give two pennies of thought to what our breath may smell like. In those moments, aren’t we looking for a toothbrush? Gum? Mint?
I mean, who cares if anyone else can smell it, sometimes it’s bugging you. That’s enough to be just a smidgen uncomfortable.
On the other hand, arguably the most freeing moments are when you are around people you’re comfortable with. Mom. Sibling. Partner. Bestie. Those folks can deal with morning breath, lunch breath, jalapeno breath. These companions will also, however, tell you when you are in dire need of a toothbrush – either for their sake or yours.
I have to admit, I love a good honest friend. To have someone that will call me on my stuff – stuff I sometimes don’t know I have, is powerful. It causes me to pause, re-evaluate and move forward. Sometimes it causes me to freeze or change course. My best friends are those that challenge me to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability, as simple as it is, is not an easy thing. No sir. It’s not the response I may receive that i get anxious about. It’s the being honest with myself part.
I’m going to go on a limb, and you’ll probably disagree, but honesty has layers. Facts are real. The truth is relative. Honesty has layers.
Let me explain.
Fact: I was engaged. The truth about what happened will be different depending on who is telling the story. How I honestly felt about it changed at different points as I processed my emotions with different lenses.
I am angry. Why am I angry? I am moreso disappointed. Why am I disappointed? I thought we would work out. …I wanted us to work out. …I wanted us to work out because of my own timeline for my life. …Now that I look back on it, we probably pushed the dating idea due to pressures from ourselves and those around us. …The level of love and commitment and maturity wasn’t there for us to have a flourishing marriage.
That level of honesty with myself took years. It also took a lot of conversations with friends who knew and didn’t know the situation. The stories my homies tell now surprise me. I didn’t know that I was so openly raw. But I needed to be. And I needed friends that would let me be. And I needed friends that would encourage me to be. And one of those friends and I keep coming back to a conversation about how we can be or why we aren’t just vulnerable.
Why does vulnerability have conditions? Haven’t we all seen the power of healing that comes from sharing one’s story? Connecting with people in a raw and honest way? But we, I, keep making “buts” about why I shouldn’t just be vulnerable.
You can probably guess by now that I love connecting with people. I’m all about making friends but best believe there are levels to friendship. And, you guessed it, there are levels to vulnerability with these individuals. And the question my friend keeps asking is, “What do you have to lose?” …I may have onion breath…