The Truth About Being Brutally Honest…(Critical Essay)
Ever since I was a kid…it was difficult for me to ignore the truth.
“Rock did you have a good time?”
“Rock, are you happy to see us?”
“Rock, you should focus on the positives!”
I can do that…but that’s not what you asked…Sounds mean and heartless, doesn’t it. But those were literal answers I gave to grownups when I was just a child. Back before I had any concept of tact or sugarcoating…telling people what they want to hear.
If it’s the truth and you asked for it, I think a piece of me really does die inside when I have to come up with some pleasant positive response while skirting about the honest truth. And worse…if you go about doing this all your life just to make others feel good when the responses you give are far from the truth, do they really know who? Do they really know the truth about you? Or is it, that so many of us don’t want people to know the truth about us?
When you die and they describe you to others at the funeral…wouldn’t it piss you off to hear how far off from the truth they are? Last year, an associate passed away and I experienced such a case. I’d hear others describe him as such a happy person and they couldn’t understand why he died. That may be the truth as they knew it…but I saw a different truth. One that left me with little questions when I heard he had taken his own life.
During my sophomore year in high school, I truly was a pathological liar. In an upcoming essays about Sigmas, you’ll get a better grasp of why I was like this, but I can tell you there’s a lot of credence in the phrase, “it takes one to know one.” I was a pathological liar, thus, I understand what it means to lie and why people do it.
“What do you mean you were a pathological liar? I thought you were dropping truth bombs as a child? So what happened?”
A pathological liar is someone who compulsively tells lies due to a distorted self-image. I wasn’t clinically diagnosed as such, but I came to this realization by the start of my junior year. As a pathological liar, I confess, I wasn’t fully aware that I was even telling a lie. In my head…damn this is embarrassing…I had a very strong imagination and I believed in what I dreamed.
For instance, back then, I was a big fan of “Smallville” and as arrogant as this sounds, found a lot of similarities between myself and the Clark Kent character. In one episode, he started having headaches before he learned he could see through walls. For me…in the real world, I used to have headaches every week and one day, I had a headache and believed I was seeing through the auditorium walls. And just by coincidence, people who I imagined was coming down the band-club hallway, really did come down the hallway and entered.
In another stupidly fantastical lie, I remember telling another Drama club member that when I was in Texas, I saved a figure skater who was attacked. I didn’t. This is a blatant, ridiculous lie. I did live in Texas. There was a skating rink in a mall where I dreamt this happening, but it wasn’t my memories, just flashbacks of footage I had seen of Nancy Kerrigan from 1994.
When it comes to “what happened?”…When it comes to my sophomore year, I had just joined the drama club. It was a new world for me. Distorted self-image was right. I didn’t know who I was, or who I should be, but like any teenager, wanted to be accepted and fit in, so subconsciously I told lies I believed would jump-track me into being liked and accepted by others…I’m assuming this is what had happened.
What woke me out of this habit of pathological lying was…oddly enough, the truth. I hate to throw my older brother under the bus here, but he was a graduating senior at the time. I saw how the rest of the family considered him the golden child because he “appeared” to be a Jehovah’s Witness just like them (which was all they seemed to care about). However, unlike the rest of the family, I was the only person who went to the same high school as him.
I love my brother, but back then, he was the quintessential hypocrite. I got in so much trouble with my family, labeled the black sheep because of my honesty in opposing their religion. Whereas my older brother told everyone what they wanted to hear, appearing to be the perfect Jehovah’s Witness, but lived a double life at school when it came to women and his band clubmates. Out of respect to him, I won’t divulge any more than that. Because he’s no longer that person.
Also going into that hellacious summer where I’d go from 16 to 17, I learned the “truth” about my father. I was taught to love and respect women. To treat them well, to fight for, and protect them. Don’t cheat. Don’t abuse them. Never hit them. Never break their hearts. I was raised to be a white knight. But that summer, I learned a one-sided story from my step-mother about how my father was treating her, which went against everything I was taught. Also, I learned that my father tried to tell courts I wasn’t his son because I was too light-skinned…
So yeah…by time I returned to school in August as a junior…the pathological lying thing had worn off. Because, fuck trying to be accepted and liked and loved. What did that get me? No matter what I did, it seemed no one would ever accept me for the way I was…so I might as well just be myself and let the chips fall where they may.
That’s not to say I all the sudden stopped lying. I did. But from that point on, I wasn’t oblivious. When I used to lie, I was glaringly aware of what I was doing. The night my mother tried to have me arrested, I straight up lied and cried to let her think she had gotten the best of me, when in truth, I just didn’t want an arrest record to fuck up my senior year, never mind my future. And then when I graduated high school and first came to Tampa, I lied about becoming a bouncer and losing my virginity to intentionally hurt my ex.
The lies were intentional. Manipulative. Wicked. Even if it was something as simple as saying “I love you” or “I love that dress.” A lie is a lie, whether it’s a white lie or not.
The first time I really considered this was in 2007, when I was 21 and still a novice as an intellectual. Just a Pizza Hut delivery driver, still figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. There was a girl who asked me out and, as politely as I could, I declined. But she didn’t leave it alone.
Almost incessantly, she demanded to know why I wouldn’t go out with her. And the way I responded to her demands, makes me smirk now that I think about it. Because it was a glimmer of the way I am now. I wrote to her and told her, “Unless you intend to change who you are just to be with me, what’s the point of knowing why I won’t go out with you?”
This was when I realized that very often, in the depths of their heart, so many people already know the truth. They claim to seek it, but they struggle to live with it. Because when I eventually told her the truth, (because she was overweight) instead of accepting this truth, she just did her utmost to try and change my perception of her, as if there was something wrong with me seeing her that way. It was strange. Not to mention, at that age, I was getting sick and tired of people trying to tell me how and what I should think.
Around the age of 23, I made it a goal of mine to never lie again because I acknowledged what lies were. Lying is a form of fear. It’s a wall we create to hide the truth. To me, lying was an admission of my fear. And out of perhaps arrogance and pride, never again did I want to fear any human being.
I’m not saying I never lie anymore. I’m still human. But its extremely rare. So rare that I remember the last time. It was four years ago with an ex-girlfriend. I lied when I told her I loved her and was painfully aware that I was lying straight through my teeth when I said it. I didn’t love her, but I merely cared about her. I didn’t want to hurt her. I was afraid of hurting her. So when she told me she loved me, I created a wall that was the lie to hide the truth from her.
That won’t happen again. I still ended up hurting her and it only prolonged the inevitable. It was stupid.
People sometimes give us flack for that. They’ll say, “you weren’t afraid of hurting her/him, you were afraid of getting caught!” (whether it was caught lying or cheating…I’ve never cheated on a woman)
The whole, “you’re afraid of getting caught!” line is a bit silly to scream. What happens when we get caught? Who do you think it hurts more, you or me? You can scream at them until you’re blue in the face about how mad you are, but chances are the other person will just take it because deep down…they’re not all that hurt. They just feel sorry for you. Which is why they’re taking your wrath with little resistance. They know they deserve your wrath and when it’s over, they’ll be better off than you.
There’s a difference between lying and making a mistake. A lie is a statement made with the intention to deceive. I don’t think people are liars when they talk about themselves or make statements that they themselves believe to be true. But when they’re actions or follow-up statements contradict those earlier ones…the truth reveals itself. Even still, I wouldn’t call those people liars, just wrong or mistaken. Like a person who says “oh, I’m not afraid of heights!” full believing that about themselves…until they get in a tall building or overpass and suddenly start to feel the anxiety. That person wasn’t a liar. Just wrong about themselves.
Which is why I’m especially cautious around younger people who aren’t used to being alone or having gone through long periods of their lives that they spend by themselves.
I know myself because I spent years during my 20s, by myself. It’s as my boss and mentor, a high-profile defense attorney, once told me. If there’s no one in your life to pull you out of your own head, then that’s where you’ll stay. Analyzing yourself. Overanalyzing yourself. That’s not to say people who are always surrounded by a group of friends aren’t the thinking type…but only that they haven’t had as much time to think about their actions and who they are…as opposed to those who spend a lot of time alone.
And just because you’re gregarious and treating a person friendly even though you don’t like that person, it doesn’t mean you’re being dishonest. Treating people with love and kindness even when you despise them does not make you fake. I believe it’s when you go beyond the gregarious behavior that lines are cross. Like inviting them out, or actively showing an interest in who they are and what they’re up to. Unless, it’s to satisfy your own curiosity and expand your knowledge, I do believe you’re crossing lines of dishonesty by pretending to be their friend, someone they can depend on. But still, only you know the truth about your own intentions.
That being said, speaking the truth also takes wisdom. Just because you’re honest, it doesn’t mean you absolutely have to reveal the truth, especially when no one’s asking for it. It takes wisdom to consider the time and place. It’s one of the reasons why I write.
It’s just who I am, a natural born investigator. If something seems off. If I’m sold a bill of goods passed off the truth and it simply doesn’t make sense, I think deep down, it angers me. It tells me I’m either being lied to or I’m lacking the comprehension to understand the truth. I have to find out which is which.
This bold, often brutal concept of being 100% honest. Sometimes it comes off that I’m lacking in compassion or that I don’t care about the feelings of the one I’m revealing said truth to. I get it. The truth is often difficult to accept. Easier to deny. But what kind of existence is that? Are you really alive? Do you even exist at all? Or are you a living breathing figment of your own imagination? Perhaps that’s real, all the same.
However…everyone’s true colors always come through no matter how much they try to hide it. Eventually, one truth will prevail! This is why you often hear, “he or she isn’t the person I thought he or she was! He/she changed!”
If you were fooled, doesn’t that mean you were a fool? Our society doesn’t like to think like that. It’s always the other person’s fault.
But that’s not me. I blunder and make mistakes like anyone else, but I love taking responsibility even when I’m clearly being attacked or antagonized by another person. I accept the responsibility, take on the blame, which allows me greater control when it comes to solving the problem. As opposed to leaving it up to them or up in the air. This is my life. My world. I’m responsible for what I do, how i feel, how I respond.
It’s really not so bad. Accepting said responsibility makes you free, more liberated than most. If you’re not responsible for your actions, for your own thoughts, then you are beholden to others. Are you cool with that?
Furthermore, look at it this way. When you’re dealing with someone as honest as I am…I could be wrong, but I think your relationship with people like me will be 10x more meaningful than others.
Think about the funniest comedians. Honesty is the basis of the best humor. We laugh at the jokes because we know there’s a great deal of truth in them. The only ones not laughing are the ones who would rather keep the truth hidden.
So yeah…I really do come off as effing hilarious and thought provoking in real life, depending on who you are. If can also be helpful when it comes to improving who you are. If you seek validation and having people tell you ONLY what you want to hear, I’m not the one.
Instead, I will validate you and tell you what you want to hear IF…it is indeed the truth. If a man like me tells you, “you are beautiful…” lol, rest assured, you are.
If I say you have a good heart and I appreciate talking to you. I mean it. I’m not saying these things merely to make you feel good, but to let you know that you have awesome, positive qualities I admire.
Thus…my thoughts, my words, my opinions…they’re not empty.
Just one more thing I wanted to share about this pursuit of the truth and my painstaking awareness of it. When they say “ignorance is a bliss”…it really is. There is a sort of peace and happiness in not knowing the truth because it allows you to simply enjoy the moment. You’re not thinking about what could happen or what has happened. It’s easier to “hope for the best” and “believe all will be well” because you don’t know any better.
Imagine the peaceful sleep one could have in an open park if they didn’t know about the Zodiak murders or Son of Sam. Imagine the exhilarating freedom one could have while walking the savannah if they didn’t know they were being stalked by a pride of lions.
One of my favorite Bible Books is the book of Ecclesiastes. It was written by King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived and I appreciated it because…I get it. Reading that book gives off the sensation of, “Oh good. It’s not just me.”
In Ecclesiastes Chapter 1, Solomon writes about his efforts in life, his passion and pursuit of truth, purpose, and wisdom. 1:18, he wrote something remarkable. : “For an abundance of wisdom brings an abundance of frustration, So that whoever increases knowledge increases pain”
Every gift and blessing comes with its catches, I think. With truth and knowledge, it alleviates anxiety and stabilizes the mind, bringing about a peace that leads to prosperity. The Con is that you don’t get to enjoy the oblivious ignorance so many around you enjoy. Thus, we come off as boring to the willfully ignorant because we see how pointless a lot of their endeavors are.
Taking pictures and traveling are a few of those pointless things that apply to me. I was raised in a military family. I traveled a lot as a kid and at the age of 33, found a beautiful, diverse city to lay my roots. It’s like, I could have chosen the mountains of Colorado, the vast forests of Georgia, but I chose the sea and air of Tampa Bay. I’m good.
Yes, I’d like to visit Japan, Britain, and the Scandanavian countries to see if the imagination I wrote about in my books was on par with reality. But I don’t need to be there to “experience it” the way others seem to talk about. My imagination and memory are powerful. All I need do is see an image and mentally, I can place myself there. I can sense the cold, smell the vegetation, feel the breeze and even wince at the sunlight.
If you don’t believe me, it’s okay. I don’t blame you. At the same time, I really hope you don’t hold it against me when I choose to stay away from you. I’m not sure if you knew, but it’s not a pleasant feeling to be friends or associates with someone who’s constantly doubting you and defaults to cynicism as a defense mechanism for their own lack of understanding.