“Everything comes easily for you.”

I sat in stunned silence, not knowing how to respond. “Are you kidding me?” was my first thought.

Maybe I should start closer to the beginning of the story. I came to Minnesota for college not knowing anyone in the whole state, or even the surrounding states, for that matter. I prayed about where I should attend, and felt strongly that it should be North Central University in Minneapolis. I was already a very driven person, trying to do my best at whatever I set my hand to do. I earned good grades in high school, but also worked late into the nights studying (and that was after working a part-time job and participating in many extracurricular activities). If I didn’t have a good enough grade for my liking in a class, I found all the extra credit homework I could do to make it better. It was hard work, but it was important to me.

And then came college.

I did not anticipate the difference between high school and university-level work. I was still very studious, but took way too many credits to be able to study effectively for each class. The work itself was much more difficult than high school. And I was learning how to live and interact with peers, which was so fun. But I worked diligently to maintain discipline and order in my schedule. I was completely exhausted.

I spoke on the phone with my far-away family about once a week or so, and not wanting my mom to worry, I only shared the good news and victories in my adventures. And then I discovered that my idea had been flawed from the beginning.

“Everything comes easily for you,” one of my siblings said to me when I was home for a short visit. I was flabbergasted. My family didn’t know about the long nights of studying in the library and then the hallway, so I wouldn’t bother my roommates. They didn’t know about the heavy class-load and the difficulty I had adjusting to college-level testing. There were no extra credit projects to help me in college. They didn’t know about my struggle and my angst over not doing as well as I thought I should. They didn’t know because I never told them.

It was my own fault that my family had a skewed idea of my life. By trying to protect them from worry, I failed to let them see the balance of pain in my struggles. They couldn’t offer encouragement or understanding because I never told them I was having a hard time.

I determined right then to change and to be completely honest with my family. I needed their support, and I had learned my lesson in only sharing one side of the story.

When I am tempted to keep my current issues to myself in front of those closest to me, I remind myself of this experience. Relationships suffer without honesty. Misunderstandings and even jealousy can sprout and grow when we refuse to share a balance of our whole selves.