For about the last ten years or so, I’ve been trying to follow two mantras when making any and all decisions:
- Be a grown-up.
- Honesty is the best policy.
You see, I wasn’t always the most honest person (with myself or others) as a teenager. I’d lie to cover things up and make life easier for myself, or act in other (similarly immature) ways of dealing with problems. And I wasn’t happy.
I wasn’t happy because I didn’t LIKE myself.
How could I like myself when I was ashamed? When I had to rely on a cover story? When I couldn’t stand by my actions in the cold light of day?
I like myself a lot more now. But, I now have a new problem.
For some reason, I often find that my two guiding principles are at odds with each other. That doesn’t seem right, does it?
Maybe it’s just me, but being an adult often means things like: telling polite lies; glossing over disruptive thoughts or subjects; hiding one’s emotions for the greater good; ignoring slights, etc.
All of these things seem to call for a selective honesty that I struggle with.
It’s not that I can’t do it. After all, I’m from a long line of stoic Scandinavians. We can NOT talk about things forever. And burying our true emotions? Please. We invented it!
The thing is . . . as much as I love my family and celebrate the wonderful things that have brought and keep bringing to my life, the one thing that has always bothered me is the secrecy. What is so WRONG about talking about subjects that evoke emotions? What is so WRONG about showing your tender pink undersides to the people you trust the most?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I struggle with them. I still keep far too much to myself and, in doing so, keep others out.
Contrarily, I lay a lot of my cards (true, they’re generally the unimportant ones) right out on the table. . . even if they’re those that don’t cast me in the best light (i.e. a funny story of my own stupidity or those habits of which I am not proud). But, honestly, I think that’s part of my charm – the lack of pretense. The knowing that you’ll get a straight answer if you ask for one. And sometimes even if you don’t.
I’ve come a long way from my teenage years, but there’s still a long way to go. And it will feel like even longer until I can strike the my own perfect balance between social appropriateness and pure, brave truth.