“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

"You are not the first one sitting in my office with this problem," revealed my boss. "Be careful what you share. People will judge you."

I was a well-regarded top management consultant until that time of my life, and suddenly I could not even sort my laundry. Instead of investment opportunities, I saw random numbers scattered across Excel. I was a star extinguished. I planned to be no more.

Diagnosis: depression.

I heard it many times: Don't talk. Don't share. Don't show.

A black cab picked me up from a mental-health hospital gate to catch a flight to my HBS interview. The driver admitted: "I was afraid I was picking up a patient!" Hiding the truth behind my tailored suit aggravated my despair.

During the first year at HBS, I found the courage to share my story of darkness. My hands were shaking, my head was spinning. And then it came: standing ovation, tears, and hugs. Empowerment. I realized that sharing the darkness made my star shine bright. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I connect better with people. I radiate an inner light.

With my second chance, I will share and help others understand the power of their starlight.

— Emilka Valentova