Humans live double lives: the life we’re actually living and the life we want others to think we’re living. The greater the gap between those two lives, the harder it is for us to reconcile.

Kathryn Key, the 374th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, decided a few years ago that it had become too exhausting to manage that gap, so she made a conscious decision to live more authentically.

That’s involved being open about her stresses, insecurities and mental health challenges. Kathryn says it still feels unnatural to be so vulnerable, but that it often brings peace.

Another reason Kathryn wanted to be more open is because she wanted her actions to better align with her work. Kathryn is CEO of Sydney Drug Education and Counselling Centre, a not-for-profit that provides free counselling for young people aged 12-25, and their families, around alcohol and drug use. This is an organisation that aims to remove the stigma around mental health and encourages people to have a better understanding of who they are and what they really need.

I greatly admire Kathryn’s commitment to self-improvement – and feel a little jealous, because she’s several steps ahead of me. My natural tendency is to keep my emotions contained; I’ve opened up somewhat over the past few years, but not to the extent of Kathryn.

Most people don’t want to change, because that forces us to admit to a second life. But if we don’t accept the discomfort of opening ourselves up, we have to accept the discomfort of living in a way that doesn’t feel entirely real.