A recent blog post by writer Donald Miller, What if the Temptation to Be Impressive Keeps Us From Connecting? got me thinking. Mr. Miller, author of the Storyline Blog, writes about how he is bored by people who portray themselves as perfect. I believe there's an important lesson here for people with hyperhidrosis and social anxiety. Often when we're so busy trying to hide our sweat, we are unable to connect with others. We may also lose the ability to discern who is a true friend who is worthy of your time and love. (And when I say "worthy," I'm talking about someone's integrity, morals, and originality--not their social standing or wealth.)
In high school, I lived in fear of classmates discovering my hyperhidrosis. I avoided activities where I might need to hold or shake others' hands. At religious services, I would leave for the bathroom in the middle of each service to avoid exchanging the sign of peace. When I won an award for excellence in my sport (surprise, surprise...it was swimming!), I refused to attend the ceremony to accept the trophy because I would need to shake hands. All of this kept me apart from others, alone in a crowd. And it was all because I was afraid I would be made fun of because of my sweat.
My fear of being teased was valid--I had been teased because of my sweat--but I was not able to think this through at the time. If someone is making fun of me because of my sweat, what does it say about them? Now I know that mean people are often hurting on the inside. Ostracizing others is a way to boost yourself at others' expense. Ultimately, the cruelty hurts all involved. People who are at peace with themselves naturally feel compassionate towards others. They are the people you want to know. They are the people who are capable of healthy friendships. They are the people who will accept you for who you are, even if you sweat like a football player eating jalapeno peppers in a sweat lodge. When I think about my high school classmates, I believe there were some who would have been excellent friends who I did not connect with because I was too busy hiding.
Therefore, being honest about your hyperhidrosis will weed out people who lack the compassion and self-love to be a true friend. I'm not saying that you need to tell everyone all the time. But there are some times and places where it's better to be honest. If someone rejects you, yes, of course, it will hurt. But ultimately, the loss is theirs.