Lately I’ve been learning a lot about honesty.
I’ve always thought of myself as an honest person. I didn’t see myself as someone who put on a mask all the time. I didn’t see myself as someone who elaborated a story to make it more exciting. I don’t feign sickness or hurt when I don’t feel like doing something.
But there are so many sides to honesty that our everyday definitions of the word never begin to see. Because what I’ve been learning lately is that honesty is something stripped down, bare bones, hard. It’s brave, because when you’re dishing out honesty, the outcome is solely up to the receiver; whether they are mad, happy, understanding, or disappointed.
A few months ago I found myself in a disagreement and misunderstanding. I was so torn up trying to plan and pick the exact words to make my side seen and heard. And I did. I set up an argument, like how you would have been instructed to in a freshman first semester writing class, about how unlikely it was for me to do such a thing. I researched. I persuaded. But there was still something lacking, still something unconvincing to the other person.
I made myself beat up, worn out, over this small issue. I laid in bed, feeling I’d exhausted all my options. When finally, a friend suggested to me,
“Why don’t you just be honest?”
And so I was. I essentially said, “I didn’t do that. I wouldn’t do that.” Somehow I forgot to mention the heart of the matter under all the extras I thought this discussion needed.
Honestly, (pun maybe intended) it was like a light bulb went on in my brain. I finally figured out that my methods for confrontation I’d been using for years didn’t work. As someone who has historically avoided conflict and wanted to please people and hinged some sort of an identity on being nice and keeping her cool, straight-up honesty has been masquerading with a bit of sugarcoating for awhile now.
I felt that in order to keep a relationship intact during any sort of conflict, I had to concoct the perfect monologue that would never hurt or rub anyone the wrong way. Let me tell ya, folks: it’s a lot of work. And because I was so fearful of sharing my feelings and opinions, I forgot about them for awhile. It’s been a process of figuring them out, and one that’s been going for a few years now. But this was the last straw, and I see it so plainly now: bare bones, no sugar. That’s honesty.
Because we all owe it to each other, don’t we? We are each given some absolutely incredible, wild, vivid, vast, unique feelings and stories. It’s a beautiful gift to be able to feel all these things within a lifetime; the least we can do is to be honest with ourselves and others.
So I’ve been trying to ask myself as often as I remember: what are you feeling, really? what are you thinking, really? and if no one else was around, would you still feel or think the same? Bare bones, no sugar.
Honesty is bravery, yes. Don’t all scenarios of courage hold hands with honesty? He finally did what he really wanted to do. She finally stood up for what was right. So it’s a letting go of sorts. It’s a giving of all you have and trusting it’s good enough, knowing that what you think and feel is enough, what you are is enough. It’s leaving everything up to the people who receive you and handing over the control, not trying to manipulate the outcomes, not trying to manipulate their feelings.
Because anything less than honesty with ourselves is holding us back. It’s holding us back from what we truly are and the beautiful beings we were created to be underneath. Bare bones, no sugar. We’re enough.