The hashtag #realtalk is often used jokingly as a warning when someone gives their opinion candidly with the chance of offending the receiver or audience. But the hashtag, along with #RealConvo, is now also be used to prelude the revealing of an inner thought that may be more personal and dark.

Sometimes when you reach out to others, you may not get the reaction you want. Perhaps they have a different culture or ideology that builds a wall, blocking them from being as supportive as they wish to be. Or maybe they just don’t understand the severity of the problem. But that shouldn’t stop you. There needs to be awareness from both sides, and the hashtag #realtalk can help with that. There’s a high chance that the rant session that you have with your friend will only be a temporary relief. Or you may find that you’re not receiving the help that you initially thought you would. To really receive help, there needs to be awareness from both sides. And if it helps, use the hashtag.

It takes a lot of courage to ask someone to really listen, to abandon their judgments before the conversation starts. Regardless of whether you’ve known the person as a friend or you’re talking to a walk-in appointment mental health specialist, you’ll be talking to someone who has a past different from yours and ideas that may not align with you. But for the conversation to work, both sides, you included, must be willing to be open to listen, open to talk, and careful to strike a balance between overburdening and becoming to patronizing or advisory, depending which side of the conversation you are on.

Choosing to ask for help is the first step. And after you confirm that the person is willing to listen, tell your story. Just saying “School is hard. People are tough to socialize with,” is not going to get a clear picture. Just as it is assumed that a character in a book has a background that links to the current plotline, outline your own background and how events in your past may have, in your opinion, contributed to how you currently feel. Being willing to open yourself is a risk that is hard and will require practice.

Stepping into the zone of a #RealConvo will take a lot of energy. So don’t be afraid to cry. Don’t bother bottling up emotions; that’s what you’re there to talk about. Resisting emotional expression is the exact opposite of what you would be accomplishing through talking to someone. You’re trying to analyze your emotions, not hide them. And you can’t fully express them unless you let them out.

Being on either side of the conversation requires practice and more effort than some initially think. And those who give advice on what to do are also working on it themselves. But the effort needs to come from both sides with sensitivity and respect. Have more #realtalks and #realconvo. Because, #realtalk, we need to be there for each other, and without indication that one side needs help, how would that movement start?

By NaYoung Yang


For more information about how to have a conversation with a friend see our partner organization NAMI. Please also refer to the text and call lines listed below for assistance:

Crisis Text Line (741741)

Suicide Prevention Lifeline