I have a friend that I tell things I don’t tell anyone else.
These things are not only private, they’re tantamount to secrets, due partly to their potential future worth and partly to their potential future impact on my own happiness.
They are my business ideas.
It’s great to be able to share these ideas with someone else. We pass messages back and forth at lightning pace, thinking up company names, dreaming about where our offices will be (it’s become a joint venture by now), and developing business strategies. It not only gives me a confidence boost in my idea, but it seems that, after a lot of searching, I’ve finally found a partner with whom I can go the whole 9 yards.
And then, I hesitate. There’s an internal pause, a little part of my brain that whispers warnings and ‘Remember that time when…’s.
It’s not that I don’t trust him. After all he’s never done anything to make me distrustful of him, and one should always be given the benefit of the doubt et cetera. However, over the last year or so, I’ve noticed changes in my personality that affect both in whom I place my trust and to what extent I’m willing to trust them.
I’ve never considered myself a person who had a difficult time trusting others. If anything, I’m actually a little too trusting. Believing that other people are as honest as I am, as hardworking as I am, as upfront as I am. I’m no Mother Teresa, but I tend to be a ‘no bullshit’ kind of person.
I always respond to messages as soon as I receive them, because of course. It doesn’t matter if you’re someone I’m avoiding or you’re my secret crush, you wrote to me to get a response right? It’s actually something a past fling commented on when breaking it off, “You always just seemed a little too…keen.” This is real life, not an episode of Sex and the City. If you want someone who’ll pine over your texts for two hours before responding, move along.
The fact that I don’t really care what others think of me – see above – probably contributes heavily to my trusting attitude. However, there’s another side to me. A second-guessing, distrustful, judge-a-book-by-its-cover side that’s developed as a result of a series of events that have occurred over the past year or so.
As you know I’ve been trying to start up my own business. As you may not know, it’s been in the works for well over a year now, with nothing to show for itself. The course of top dollar never did run smooth. I’ve had trouble with potential partners. From the close friend to the complete stranger, things just seem to fall apart, but in a way that seems to have no definitive end. We don’t fight or fall out; it always seems to be a mutual thing. Is that why I feel like there are things left unsaid, potential left unfulfilled, non-disclosure contracts left unsigned? Could one of these people pop up one day with my idea pouring money into their bank account?
I’ve had trouble with investors. I’m not saying that my idea is so good that people are queueing up to get my secret recipe, but the fact that investors have approached me out of nowhere means that it’s got to be worth something, right? So why have I been burned twice? One pair straight up tried to take my idea from under my nose, tempting me with “enough money to buy more pretty dresses”, while another group actually tricked me into thinking that I – not my idea – was worthless and incapable of achieving success.
I’ve had trouble with people I can’t read. Is this person actually interested in my brain or the fact that I’m female, 20-something, and naive? The businessmen of my family would argue that I’ve told far too many people my idea, that someone could just run off with it, that I’ll be cheated, or duped, or coerced if I don’t hold all my cards to my chest.
But there have also been good outcomes from taking risks with my ideas (I remind myself). I’ve found a wonderful mentor who has guided me through the pitfalls and benefits of networking. I’ve also found a new potential partner, someone with as much zest and zeal as myself. Which brings me back to the beginning of my tale.
It all feels a little silly when I think about it. Are these really trust issues? There are people who have been through devastating breakups, horrific family betrayals, workplace trials tantamount to torture. In the grand scheme of things, nothing’s actually happened to me yet. My idea’s still intact, unstolen, and property of my brain; no one’s taking me to court over an IP suit and I appear to be moving forward.
There’s a nagging feeling that plagues me every time I tell someone about my business idea, a fear. Fear that the idea will be stolen? That I’ll be judged? That the idea itself will be judged? Again – are these real trust issues? Or my own insecurities manifesting?
But I have noticed that my thoughts and feelings are seeping into my behaviours, the way I act around my friends. Small things like who I choose to invite dinner or on holidays – who can I trust to turn up? Who’s going to keep their mouth shut if I have gossip to share. But more often than not these kinds of tribulations are expected from friendships, especially female friendship groups.
But maybe this is all just a part of growing up, shedding the naievity and opening your eyes just wide enough to realise that the only person you can really trust is yourself. How can we know when to trust someone – is this taught or learned behaviour? Are people my age doomed to insecurity of feeling, especially when our seemingly fragile and increasingly transient career paths are at stake? Started from the bottom and we’re still here, trying to get over there, and not really feeling like we can trust anyone with that mission except ourselves.
And maybe one secret friend.