Communication is key — the Live, Laugh, Love of interpersonal relationship advice that I used to frame on my metaphorical kitchen wall. Over the years, without my noticing, it has slowly become a faded sticky note on the fridge, an absentminded reminder to get broccoli that never makes it onto the actual grocery list. I didn’t even realize the change until a few days ago, when an earnest conversation forced me to consider the possibility that some of my approaches to relationships — which I actually have prided myself on — may not be the healthiest. 

Throughout my younger years, especially early high school, I wasn’t shy at all of confrontation and communication. In the reckless spirit of pubescent teenagers, my friends and I jumped into sensational drama and shared our every triumph, worry and petty Snapchat story. I wasn’t afraid at all to confront or communicate with someone when I had a concern. 

I probably changed, like many people, primarily through hurt and stress. The more you trust and love your chosen family, the more vulnerable you become to their words and actions. Friends came in and out of my life, some quietly and some quite loudly. I hurt my friends, my friends hurt me, and through it all we grew together or grew apart. Part of this growth was realizing unflattering things about myself I had never known before. 

Right now, with half of Yale behind me, I have learned that I tend to overthink interactions and get into my own head; I care deeply about my friends and even as I show them love in my way, I get hurt when they show me theirs in a way that, in my language, would indicate lack of reciprocity — even knowing very well that people express caring in different ways. And as I learned these things, in an attempt to compensate for these vulnerabilities, I concluded that I should forget to forgive; if somebody hurt or disappointed me, it was simplest to cut my losses and just drop any emotional attachment so they could never affect me like that again. This began as an idea, and as I reminded myself of it again and again, it burgeoned monstrously until it ingrained itself into my nature. 

I started to believe that communication only made myself more vulnerable to someone who had already shown they didn’t care. This came less out of a desire to be a Stoic Alpha Male Who Feels Only Rage and Hunger — I’m aware of how I might be coming across — and more out of impatience with myself for not being able to control my emotions as well as I liked. I used to think closure was important. I wanted to have final conversations, to say goodbye or share last thoughts. 

But confrontation, communication, closure — all of those conversations require time and emotional investment, and that burden can be heavier than the fruits of any one-sided peacemaking. I found that not every loose thread in my life needs to be tied; not every wound needs closure when it will dry and heal on its own time. If friendship is a cohabited space, it doesn’t take two for me to pack my bags and walk out the door.

I confided this to my best friend — generally a much more forgiving person than I am — one night as we discussed my reaction to an event of the past week, and she returned my honesty with her own: how could she, or any of my friends, trust me not to drop her without a word the moment she crossed a line she might not know about? The conversation forced me to challenge what had become my way of life, and I realized it ultimately came down to trust and faith: trust in my friend’s intentions and heart, and faith that my vulnerability would be nurtured and our relationship could move forward. I promised myself something new: no matter how much I wanted to pull away, I would always try one more time to communicate with my friend and ask if they were willing to have a conversation. I like this. 

This has led to some unproductive conversations that made me feel foolish for saying anything at all, and I did end up closing myself off in some cases, but regardless I believe this is a better way to protect myself while allowing myself to hold on one last time to something I cared deeply about.

I also like, however, that I still no longer think of closure as a requirement for moving on. Now, confrontation and communication are a choice to me, neither necessary nor forbidden, and with that foundational balance I want to do the most important thing: improve my confidence and shed such negative patterns of thought — because I know that sometimes, the hurt I feel is less from another person than from my own insecurities and self-doubt. Like all self-improvement efforts, it’s always a work in progress.

Hyerim Bianca Nam is a senior in Saybrook College. Her column 'Dear Woman' will culminate in a composite exposition of womanhood at Yale. Contact her at