Honesty is so tricky.
It sounds like a virtue we all should strive for yet most of us don’t know really how to handle it. People speak as though they do value the quality/action yet it is often explosive and controversial and it can turn things very quickly.
I think about this alot. Partly because I’m in a position where I hear people says all the time that they’d rather hear an honest opinion. It’s been my experience that it is not true. Not at all. Very very very few of us can handle honesty. I’d like to think that I do; I’d like to think that I handle it with patience. I don’t like hearing about myself or that I have done something less than righteous but I’d like to think that I at least sit with it. It’s always rough, though.
I think deciphering the motivation of each case of honesty is helpful. Is it meant to hurt me? Is it meant to help me? Is it coming from a place of love? I also need to check myself: did I ask for things that I’m not ready to hear?; Am I too proud to open my ears?; or did I just want to be affirmed and I was passive-aggressive about it?
It has happened to me quite a number of times that I was told to give an honest opinion and then I opened my mouth only to realize that I was supposed to give them their expected version of “honest” opinion. This happened more times than I’d like it to happen. I am very weary when people ask me for my honest opinion. Because they don’t really mean that. People wants to hear what they want to hear and everything else is dismissed.
It is important to me that my words is my bond. For better or for worse. I only say what I mean. If I get the sense that they don’t want honesty, I have learned to vaguely smile and nod. I also know that when I like something and I say so, it is with the most realness one can expect. When I give compliments, some people will say, “Oh you are so nice.” Dude. I’m not being nice. I don’t do nice. I did really like what I saw/hear/read. You can count on my words.
If I say I’d do something, I will follow through. Sometimes to my detriment. Lol. So much so that it made me very cautious in making any promises. It matters to me that people can count on my words. It’s important to me that my words mean something.
I do understand that people are fragile. Situations and feelings are to be dealt with at most considerations and kindness. But I do honestly (lol) think that, especially and mostly, when I’m asked of my opinion, it is very important for me that, 1) I do so honestly; 2) And I do so from the place of love and kindness. Half truth is nice, I suppose, but it doesn’t help anyone in a real way.
There are two things I ask of my friends: 1) please do tell me when I smell bad; 2) please do tell me when I’m fucking up in any way. I warn them that I’d probably get upset initially. I mean, none of us like to have shit pointed out. But I will also say for myself that I will think about it and I will come around and I will reach out and have a conversation or two. If I haven’t, please DM me. Let’s talk.
I have had friends tell me hard things. It’s never pleasant but having done that myself, I know that this person is doing so out of love because, let me tell you, it takes so much energy to give honest opinions with care and love. It’s so much easier and safer to bullshit. And you know this. But I had people who cared about me enough to risk friendship itself. It’s exhausting and daunting to say the things that can truly help your friends. Criticism, coming from the right place, is love. It’s a big love.
I hate that sometime people say, “at least I’m honest.” Honesty does not absolve anything particularly when it is dished out in a selfish manner, to lighten your load. You are unloading your shit and handing it to people whom you supposedly love. Honesty can only be a balm when dispensed with love and kindness. Otherwise, you can keep it. Carrying stuff to your grave, can be a form of kindness.
Doing a hard thing is such a grown person thing to do. But I want to grow and keep growing. Honesty from your loving friends can be an amazing help. I just hope that I can keep being open to hard things.
And I think that maybe we need arts for this. We can be honest through arts without making things personal. We can be us and raw and that would be ok. It can even be celebrated. Arts would be the place where honesty is openly welcomed.