These are the results of our super honest BFF secret letter experiment
If you could tell your bestie something he or she needed to hear and remain anonymous, would you do it? We decided to take the challenge. Last week, four women at HelloGiggles put their friendship to the test with an experiment inspired by The Letter, an upcoming series on Freeform.
Just like in the show, four women drew names and wrote unsigned letters to each other with tough-love advice on how to improve their lives. Anonymity was key to success; by being anonymous, all four participants were able to be more open and honest with each other.
Each letter offered advice and assigned challenges to inspire positive change. For an entire week, each participant tackled the tasks outlined in their letters. Then the girls revealed who wrote which letter and reflected back on the emotional but transformative experience, and shared what they learned.
Participant #1: The Gossip
Ann took her letter very seriously and got right to work on her tasks. Throughout the week she reached out to five friends from her past and present, apologizing directly for spreading gossip about them. Plus, every time she was tempted to spread gossip, she transferred $5 into her savings account. She now has $50 to donate to charity, and says the temptation to spread stories lessened as the week went on.
“I was a little embarrassed to read my letter. It made me feel guilty and forced me to confront the consequences of my behavior: I’ve lost touch with some friends because of my gossiping habit. The letter showed me what life could be like if I don’t make some positive changes—and fast, said Ann. “When I found out that Dani wrote my letter, I wasn’t mad at all. I’m thankful for her honesty and more grateful for her friendship than ever. The Letter experiment really opened my eyes to how my actions affect others, and made me want to do better by my besties.
Participant #2: The Workaholic
Nicole pledged to leave the office by 6:30 p.m. every night, and she’s happy to report that she stuck to her new schedule. She even plans to keep it going as long as work allows. Nicole also made plans with not one but two friends, and spent time with both of them without stressing about work.
“I’ll admit it: I was a little defensive at first when I read my letter. I thought, Nobody knows my work schedule better than I do, I have it under control, they just don’t understand, said Nicole. “But I’m glad Ann wrote my letter and encouraged me to separate work and play, because I never would have pushed myself to do it otherwise. I’m grateful I have friends like her who want the best for me.
Participant #3: The Oversharer
May’s letter challenged her to quit social media cold turkey for a week, and even though it was hard, she did it. She also got into the habit of turning her phone off when spending time with friends, which helped her realize just how often she was online. May doesn’t plan on deleting her Facebook or Instagram accounts any time soon, but she’s confident she won’t be on them as much as she used to be.
“At first I was kind of annoyed. Logging out of Instagram for an entire week seemed impossible, said May. “But I quickly realized this was constructive criticism that came from someone who loves me. It came from the heart. That made all the difference, and I can’t thank Nicole enough for being honest with me. Living in the real world is more fun than constantly being online!
Participant #4: The Altruist
Dani was tasked with speaking with a life coach. Together they talked about Dani’s personal and career goals, and outlined steps she can take to find happiness and success. Dani also took a personal day to pamper herself at the spa. She says she’ll always be an altruist, but she’ll definitely remember to put herself first more.
“I knew I had a tendency to put others before myself, but hearing somebody else say it was so eye opening, said Dani. “It was helpful that May’s letter challenged me to improve in concrete ways. Plus, knowing that one of my best friends wanted me to succeed and improve my life was super inspiring.
Writing the unsigned letters was an opportunity to say the things that aren’t always easy to say. Because of that, when the girls read their own letters, they knew the constructive words were coming from a positive place of love. The tasks pushed them outside of their comfort zones, challenging them to understand not just what they were doing, but why it affected others.
These conversations aren’t easy to have. They may be uncomfortable at first, but when you have a loving and respectful friendship with someone, it’s possible. All four women agree that they feel closer to each other now than ever before. We’re so glad we participated in The Letter experiment. It was an uplifting experience that made us even stronger besties!