“what a challenge, honesty”

i’ve been thinking a lot about honesty lately.

i consider myself to be honest to a fault. i’ve been known to fret over, be paranoid about, and confess things that really don’t even matter–stuff that i didn’t even lie about. one such thing, i was talking to a friend about last night, kind of worried about it. it is something utterly stupid from sophomore year in college, a disciplinary thing, and i was wondering if i should have disclosed it on a recent application. she, along with my mom and other friends, cracked up.

“i love your honesty,” she said.

i thought about that. everyone lies. whether it’s answering “fine” when someone poses the “how are you” greeting when you’re really miserable, checking the “i have read and agree to the terms and conditions” box when you haven’t and don’t necessarily, or telling your boss something got done when it didn’t. we all do it on occasion.

i am a very honest person. every day i avoid the “how are you” question, because i know no one really wants a real answer to it. people get a deer-in-the-headlights look when you actually do tell them what is going on, as if any answer besides “fine” or “good” doesn’t compute with their operating system. if i feel something, i try to say it. it’s important to me. i feel like life’s too short to not let people know how you feel about them.

so why do people lie? i ask myself this question a lot. why do we do it? i think that lying is generally based on fear. people are afraid that the truth will get them in trouble. earn them censure or judgment. of course, there is the odd pathological liar out there who will lie just for the sake of lying, but in general, i think people lie because they’re scared of something.

i think about the things i lied about as a child. “did you brush your teeth?” “yup!” no. stupid stuff like that. kids lie all the time. as eddie izzard says, sometimes they lie even if there is a hint of getting in trouble. “yes! no! i was dead at the time!” …”i haven’t even asked you the question yet!” ha ha.

i think we’re conditioned to lie. we’re conditioned with the fear that telling the truth will bring negative consequences. that makes me sad.

i remember as a child i stole something once. i don’t even remember what it was…i was very young. and i gave it back and apologized. and i got quite the talking to. a while later, there was a calculator i thought was really cool. it had a little hard case with a calculator on one side and little address book on the other. it had some cool colored pens stuck in it, and all in all, it was the bee’s knees to fourth grade emmie. one day, it went missing.

i got blamed for it. i didn’t take it. i protested and protested, and no one believed me. months later (and i mean months), it was found behind a desk, buried under dust bunnies. i think i realized then that no one will believe you if you don’t tell the truth all the time. i think i also got a complex about not being believed.

fast forward. honesty plays a huge part in relationships. i value honesty above almost all else in my personal life, with friends, romantic relationships, family, anything. i try to live as authentically as i can. i know what it’s like to be lied to, and i do everything i can not to subject others to that.

relationships are hard. i was thinking about chasing amy, and the way holten reacts to alyssa’s past. it struck a big nerve for me. i was in an abusive relationship for a couple months this year. i was expected to divulge everything about my past, while he told me nothing. i told him everything he wanted to know. he would grill me, over and over, asking me details, everything. and he would always say he’d tell me later. and he never did. one night, i said something, and he freaked out. it was something that i hadn’t been trying to hide–it had quite honestly slipped my mind. and he called me a liar and hung up on me. then he called me back and proceeded to say things to me that have stuck with me ever since. i didn’t stay with him, needless to say, but he’s left me skittish and scared.

honesty in relationships is a two-way street. i’ve come to the conclusion that people need to feel safe, they need to have an atmosphere of trust if they are to be expected to be entirely truthful. one rule i’ve come up with is that you should never ask someone a personal question if you are not willing to answer it yourself at that moment. when it comes to people’s sexual histories, how much really matters in a relationship? they’re with YOU now.

i thought about that a lot during and after this bad relationship. i realized that i honestly didn’t care if he’d slept with half the state. what matters to me is that people are responsible.

honesty and trust go hand in hand. being entirely open with someone means trusting them with that information. and if you do that with someone, the worst thing they can do is take what you tell them in confidence and turn it against you, use it to tear you down. being honest makes you vulnerable.

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About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on 23 December, 2008, in meanderings, thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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