As part of our #BREAKFREE campaign, writer Kemi Alemoru explains why being honest has cost her one of her closest friends
It usually takes a lot to offend me. I have a tendency to comment on other people (in jest of course) and I believe you can’t dish it out if you aren’t willing to take it – and you have to be willing to laugh at yourself along the way.
However, when it comes to giving advice to your friend, projectile truth and a frank attitude is dangerous.
Some friends appreciate brutal honesty in most situations, but the more hurtful the situation the more your honesty becomes a loaded weapon. When one of my close friends went through an extremely hurtful break up, my role as the no nonsense confidante basically eroded the friendship. Maybe she would have preferred for my advice to either ignore the part she was playing in hurting herself or keep quiet as she ran back towards the pain. Eventually I paid a terrible price for my pragmatism. And for the first time, I found myself with a label that bugged me: She said I was judgemental, and for some reason, it was highly frustrating.
As an opinionated woman, it sometimes feels difficult to escape such a damning label. There is a thin line between truth and judgement and it’s a minefield trying not to cross it. With female friends sometimes it can feel like the truth is avoided when it is most needed in order to protect someone’s feelings. It is a short term solution to a long term problem and in comparison to the emotional damage bad decisions can have, it makes no sense.
A lot of the time when we discuss labels or judgements, the offender is painted as the villain. A problematic monster sent from hell to make everyone feel insecure about themselves or their actions. But rather controversially let’s take a moment to appreciate those who have the courage to tell you what you don’t want to hear – but need to hear.
Obviously this isn’t for people who go around intentionally hurting people’s feelings, there are no prizes for pointing out that they serve no purpose to society. But for those women that are willing to tell their friends the truth, I salute you. It isn’t easy to look an upset friend in the eye and tell them they need to stop texting that boy, or that they are in the wrong. Even daring to tell them they are being dramatic can earn you the cold shoulder, but you do it anyway because you care. You acknowledge that being a good friend isn’t always about being there for them when they are distraught, it is about actually helping to stop that friend from getting hurt again.
So this week if we are really going to #BREAKFREE from judgement, take a moment to think about whether or not you are being arbitrarily criticised or whether it is coming from a sincere place of concern.
Sometimes the friend you feel is judging you isn’t the enemy. On some occasions they are just brave enough to take the flack, in the hope that you’ll do what is in your best interest.