Met my friend S for lunch today after several months. She is one of my trusted advisors on what works (or not) when parenting tweens. J finds her hip, cool and pretty - the winning combination. It helps that S has a number of interesting hobbies and a beautiful singing voice. I was telling her about how J has often asked me if it was okay to share something fairly personal with her best friend - I have said yes but that conversation never ended up happening. J decided against it fearing she may be considered weird for having a problem that needed sharing - no one else does that. She does not want to be the minority of one.
S's perspective on the issue helped clarify things for me. According to her, this is the Facebook generation - they are used to living in the public eye, their lives airbrushed to perfection. Everyone is exuberant all the time, winning at everything and incredibly happy. That is the artificial standard that people are using to calibrate themselves. In that context, it is hard to be authentic, have a problem, have anything less than perfect life - ofcourse J will balk at the idea of sharing even if she wants to. The friends she fears to talk about what's bothering her have the exact same fears. They are all living in glasshouses on their personal islands - incessant chatter in cyberspace but no real communication.
S is ten years younger than me, but we know a lot about each others' lives - specially of the parts that are deeply flawed. She lives in the glasshouse like her peers. The inflated standards she mentions apply to her as well. It seems like she can let go of that with me. We can talk about things that really matter to us - hopes, dreams and fears. Meeting for a couple of hours is an authentic experience - she can always go back to the glass house and project perfection as the rules of engagement require her to do.