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Mon, April 1, 2013
Transparency in Tough Times
People who know me would most likely describe me as "real", but I prefer to think of myself as transparent. I am a firm believer that all of the experiences we have in life, whether they are good or bad, serve a purpose. The life I have today is a direct result of and a complete contrast to my previous life – my life before it seriously improved, nearly ten years ago.

In my book 'Normal Life', I share about all of the situations in my past that were shocking, depressing, crazy, impulsive, rebellious and horrible. I’m not shy discussing rape, abortion, my mother's suicide, domestic abuse or divorce because I have found that we ALL have the same issues-every single one of us- to some degree or another and our best service to each other is telling the truth.

For many of us, the harsh reality of our past can keep us stuck, even paralyzed. We fear that the issues we've had in the past will define us or that there isn’t a way to escape the blame, fear, depression or shame that accompanies our mistakes. I believe that being better is a choice and that Kelly Clarkson is right when she sings, "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger."
Although I might have preferred to have had a softer, easier life, I am grateful that the difficult life I had made me the person I am today AND that the challenges that I've been through can be a positive model of courage for other people who may be going through the same things. I’m not saying that misery loves company and I don't believe in complaining, it really serves no purpose. Instead, I know that good or bad things will happen and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.

You need to move through those experiences and integrate the wisdom you gained as a result into how you move forward. Then, be willing to be real enough to share your experiences with others.

Many people haven’t told anyone about the ugly, the painful, and the embarrassing or shameful parts of their past. They keep their past as their own private hell. They may be ashamed to tell their family or friends for fear of being judged. Some may rationalize their past or present, putting their happiness and emotional and physical well-being on hold because of an overwhelming fear of telling the truth about their lives.

I believe you are only as sick as your secrets. By sharing your story and being authentic, you can give a powerful voice to the experiences of your life and use that wisdom to help others along in their own lives.

Additionally, by virtue of being so transparent, you become like a magnet - people instantly feel like they can relate to you. Their stories are in some way the same as yours and they will support and encourage you and thank you for helping them to know they are not alone. The truth is that no one has a flawless childhood, an easy marriage or emerges perfectly from those teenage years. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, those things simply don’t exist. Let’s be real!
The best part about deciding to be more transparent is that it's a personal renovation project. You can decide to reveal as much or as little as you are comfortable with. You don't have to disclose your whole story all at once. If you are not used to sharing your story, you can find people that you can trust or better yet, people that can help and in whom you can confide.

The good news is that from this experience you will have gained valuable strength and you will feel free from the shame that you've kept inside for so long. More importantly, once you are free from the secret, your new life will never, ever resemble your past. You CAN change your situation in the future and push past the people who tell you that it can’t be done. You can prove everyone wrong. You ARE bigger and better than your circumstances and you will be a success story.

This is your time.
Remember, some situations are brought into your life as lessons in contrast Through lessons of victimization we often find our strongest voice. By being subjected to experiences that wounded our hearts, our bodies, or our spirits, we can discover that our inner strength is literally limitless. Whatever your life experiences – whether good or bad, tragic or exhilarating, by choosing to become more transparent about the truth of your life, you can use those powerful lessons to help others to travel more gently.. From that gift, you will receive the greatest joy. I know I did.

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Scott Hood is the staff writer for He covers South Carolina athletics.
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