We don’t know others’ inner turmoil

Beverly Keel was a professor I had at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). She was the professor who pushed me into working award shows and I’m still working the shows eight years later! Keel was hands down, one of the best professors I had. Here is a an article written by her that was published in The Tennessean recently. So True.

A study recently presented at the American Psychological Association’s convention revealed that people tell an average of 11 lies per week. I’ll bet the most common lie told is, “I’m fine.”

Wouldn’t it be great if instead we would tell the truth? “Thanks for asking. I’m about to fall apart.” It’s such a shame that we feel pressure to keep up the facade of normalcy, which is perhaps the greatest fallacy of all.

We are all broken in some way. Many of us are just experts at hiding it. After 25 years of interviewing the successful and famous, I’ve learned that they don’t have it any more together than the rest of us. Indeed, sometimes they have more inner turmoil than others and it may be those broken parts — their need for love, attention or financial stability — that drive their ambition or creativity.

I’ve been reflecting on this lately following a Facebook revelation by a friend that he was the victim of traumatic violence at a young age. My first realization was that my tremendous respect for him had grown even more. To think that he had overcome such horror, and became a better person and writer than I could ever hope to be, leaves me in awe of a man whose kind heart was strong enough to successfully fight off the anger that could have consumed him.

I felt awful that he’s carried the burden of this secret for decades. If I had known, could I have helped in any way? If I had only known, I would have been kinder to him. My thoughts raced back to our encounters: Was there a time when I rushed a conversation or treated him with less than my full attention on what might have been a horrible day for him?

Like many Nashvillians, I’m still having difficulty processing the tragic death of Rob Bironas. While I know nothing about his last night other than what I’ve read in the news, I believe that what happened was a symptom of something else going on in his life, not a comment on his character.

We shouldn’t be defined by the best day or worst day of our lives, but by the sum total of how we live most of the days on Earth. If you meet me on a good day, you might think I am kind. But if you encounter me on a day that I’m so lost in my own worries that I don’t hear you speak to me, you might believe that I am rude and self-involved. Yet I am the same person on both days. Hopefully, I’ll have many more years of good days than bad ones.

Bironas should and will be remembered as a Nashville hero, not only for his inspiring performance on the field, but more importantly, for the lives he touched off of the field. He created the Rob Bironas Fund to provide financial assistance to help young people succeed in school through music education. He also worked to help children in need through the Kicks for Kids program, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Then there are the countless children to whom he spoke in schools, signed autographs and gave words of encouragement. Perhaps his kindness was the one thing that gave a child the courage to compete or succeed, or let the child know that he or she was important and worthy of love. Maybe he just said something that gave a broken child the strength to get through another day.

Lately, I find myself saying, “If I had only known.” I could’ve been kinder, more present, more generous. But the truth is, I already knew. Because we are all broken in some way, battling our own demons, issues and pasts, we are all in need. Therefore, I need to be kinder to everyone. That way, I won’t add to their pain or problems, and I won’t look back in regret over what I could have done.

Journalist Beverly Keel is also a professor and chairwoman of Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Recording Industry. Reach her at beverly.keel@mtsu.edu.

Source: Tennessean