Today is a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge not only the costumes worn on this eve (personal favorite: Amelia Earhart), but also the masks we wear in our day-to-day real life.
Cocktail chatter, social media, and real life are disconnected. We talk about career milestones and post photos of our seemingly perfect lives: kids smiling, fancy events, happy partners.
What we don’t talk about are the unattainable struggles to “have it all”. We don’t advertise our long nights at the office. We don’t post about exasperation when the kids have a crisis. We don’t share our fears and frustrations when our aging bodies let us down, and we don’t publicly mourn the loss of friends whose friendships seem to fade over time.
I know that when the going got tough for me, I kept my struggles quiet. And that was a mistake. But I’m talking about them now.
When I was diagnosed with cancer for the 4th time, I also: lost my job; became an empty nester as my youngest daughter went off to college; and my boyfriend (now husband) lived all the way across the country. I felt isolated, disconnected and lost. I rarely shared my loneliness and depression with anyone outside my inner circle.
During this dark period, I realized so many people in my professional life surrounded me because of the mask I wore: the successful, impenetrable, fashion-forward CEO.
But when my job disappeared, many of those people did too.
Once I regrouped, I started hosting women at my house to establish connections beyond the “what-do-you-do-for-a-living” question. The goal was to find levels of connection that couldn’t be destroyed by a job change, and to acknowledge that we are so much more than just what we do to earn money.
This transformed into Parlay House, a community that empowers women to meet not network, connect not chit-chat, and be pampered not ignored. I found that I wasn’t the only one struggling with loneliness and a disconnect within myself.
Because I dropped my mask, other women did the same. And today, Parlay House is thriving and expanding because we have created a safe space to be open, to be vulnerable, to share joy and to trust each other.
If building more connected relationships sounds good to you, here’s your Halloween One Small Thing to get you started:
Post or share a picture of what’s behind your mask. Photos tend to capture so much more than words.
If your mask is a serious professional, maybe ask a question of your circle as a way of acknowledging that you too have questions about how to move forward.
If your mask is a proud parent, perhaps post a more open description of the challenges of supporting children as they grow.
By opening up the layers of yourself, you tap into awareness of yourself and become a more complex, and perhaps relatable, person for others.
Share it big: tell the world your #OneSmallThing Halloween story by sharing it on social media.
Share it small: if you want more of an intimate connection, send your story directly to friends, family, or colleagues via email/text/phone.
Share it with me: I’m creating a collection of One Small Thing stories. Simply send me a note to be added.