Many of us live our lives very publicly in today’s world. The internet and social media have made it possible for us to share our everyday thoughts, feelings, spaces, opinions, relationships and decisions with complete strangers. As time goes on I see this as more and more of a danger; part of the truth may be left in the shadows. In that respect we only really know half (at best) of someone’s story, and so often we judge what we read or see on the surface without truly understanding.

I found out recently that my closest girlfriend, who had what appeared to be a picture perfect life, was suffering for very many years with depression and suicidal thoughts. She had confided in me that she was sad, but I never knew the extent of her pain. Only after she was on the other side did she have the courage to speak out the whole truth of her story. It hurts me that I was not able to walk through her shadowlands with her, to be there and hold her hand. I wish I had pursued it further when she told me she was sad. Empathy goes a long way but in this case it was not enough.

We are all human beings with flaws. We have no room to judge each other or make assumptions based on what we might see on the surface. Most of us have experienced sadness and suffering in our lives along with joy. Light and darkness are part of our stories. I am continually working on being the kind of person who honors and embraces them both.