When I was 16 I sat in a red convertible on Valentine’s Day with my friend. We were waiting for our boyfriends to come to the parking lot and meet us where we would then drive to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner.
I think about this moment in time regularly. If the boys had come down just minutes earlier maybe I could have missed her secret altogether. We all would have been better off I think.
Instead, I was alone with her. The moment was very real – and scary. She told me she had slept with my other friend’s long-time boyfriend and loved him. Once she was done with her confession, which she seemed oddly quite proud of, she looked at me with such intensity that the rest of the world was blocked out for a moment. She told me to take her secret to the grave and never tell anyone.
This is an enormous amount of pressure and responsibility to put on a person. In all reality, this happens every day in high school. We develop friendships and friends share secrets. Longer term, in life we are regularly tested with secrets and decisions that not only affect us, but those around us.
This particular secret haunted me for months. I would see my other girlfriend come to school singing how much she loved and trusted her boyfriend, and only I knew he had cheated on her. I felt a part of the lie. I felt terrible.
When you are faced with a decision of whether or not to keep a secret if you feel like it’s hurting someone, my advice is to listen to your gut feeling about it. Don’t gossip about it with others until everyone knows except the person you really want to tell. Check in with yourself and decide how you feel about the circumstance. Who will it hurt if you tell? Who will it hurt if you don’t?
At the end of the day, I couldn’t live with myself by not sharing this secret with my friend. I made the conscious choice to tell my friend her boyfriend had cheated. Now, in this particular scenario, my decision had set of a massive wave of negative reactions that truthfully led to my rock bottom moment in life.
It wasn’t more than a few years later that I had understood the gift in this whole magical series of events that led to major inner growth. It completely shaped the person I am today and I learned so many lessons out of that one decision I couldn’t even count them all. Stemming from this, I have a few insights for you:
- The most important thing I can share with you is that you have a CHOICE in who you decide to become friends with. Choose wisely. It is a reflection of who you are and your friends will influence you in all sorts of ways. Make sure it’s a positive influence and one that lifts you up and helps you become a better person.
- Take decisions such as these extremely seriously. I remember feeling the rush and thrill of secrets and danger and pushing boundaries when I was a teen. I felt sort of invincible and didn’t understand the depth and repercussions of my decisions until later in life. If I had it to do over, I still would have told my friend, but I would have gone to a teacher or mentor first and asked advice on how to handle the delivery of the truth to my friend. Maybe I could have explained things differently or better.
- If you don’t want to be put in this position at all – and I wouldn’t blame you – then you have a choice to tell your friend you don’t want to hear their secret because it would put you in an uncomfortable position. This does NOT make you a bad friend. If anything, it makes you a better friend because you want to be loyal to that person and you want to support them.
- At the end of the day you have to do what feels right for you and sometimes that means going against the crowd. It’s hard to be a leader and do the right thing at first, until you understand that nothing can beat Truth. Nothing can beat Truth. Then leading becomes easy because you know it’s the right thing to do in the long-run.
- There is no need to rush when you are faced with an important decision. Take the time you need to reflect, question and decide what to do.
Decisions like this are important because people’s feelings are involved. Hopefully these insights based on my experience will help offer some guidance in the decision you are questioning. If you experienced a similar challenging decision about a secret, I’d love for you to share your story here so we can all learn from it.
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