“Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
I could tell you a ridiculous statement right now, such as, “When I suck on old coins, I prefer brass over silver.” That might be the truth, or that might be a lie. I suppose you have to accept it as truth until one day you catch me lounging in my living room with a silver quarter in my mouth, surrounded by a pile of pennies.
…And you know what, I would be so embarrassed that you caught me.
Except, I don’t really have to worry about getting caught because I’m pretty damn honest. I’m careful to say that I don’t lie at all, because I feel like it’s human nature to lie in some small ways from time to time. Although, I definitely avoid intentionally lying. I feel like my integrity rests on my word. I’m honest at times when it’s probably not even advisable or when my honesty could be used against me, but I just spew out my truth garbage.
For example, with my job that recently let me go at the end of my disability. If I hadn’t told them that I was going to school at the beginning of September, they probably would have tried to make more accommodations for me. Yet, I didn’t do that because I hate to lie. It gives me more anxiety then the lie is even worth. I ruminate on it too deeply. So, out comes my truth.
So, when did this all start?
Well, I haven’t always been like this!
In fact, growing up I was taught by my father that lying is a good way to get what you want in life. He found pride in being able to scam businesses out of a few bucks here and there, with his bullshitting. It only ever made me feel uncomfortable. I had never felt good about being involved in a lie, and I always felt my guilt quite strongly.
When it came to my father, there was always a nervousness about me as a kid. I’d be punished if I was just being myself, because maybe I said something that he didn’t like. Not that it was harmful, but because it didn’t align with his beliefs and he always reacted with anger first. So, I often kept my truth to myself. I was also forced to lie sometimes just to protect my identity, as I knew me on the inside. I never enjoyed it, but he was a little man and little men require little considerations.
I remember one uncomfortable event in particular where I needed to get my car towed to a nearby dealership for new keys to be made. I believe I lost the keys somehow, probably in some drunken stupor, as I was prone get myself into when I was younger. I was also working in retail and had very little money. So, my Dad’s idea was to call roadside assistance for his vehicle (because I didn’t have any), then ask the driver to swap our vehicles instead. He made sure that I took the reigns on this one, to earn my “manhood” badge or something like that.
I just remember that it was extremely awkward. The driver was pissed off and after getting quite upset, my Dad talked him down and he proceeded to tow my vehicle. It worked, but we forced this guy to be complicit in our lie to save a few dollars.
Not worth it. When I did lie, I always had a look of guilt on my face that betrayed me. I didn’t have a good poker face, and I was trying to be something that I wasn’t. Some people in my life made honesty out to be a weakness. Just say this or that, was common talk in my family circle. I have one friend who still believes honesty will get ya nothing but blues, but I don’t believe it. He pokes fun at me calling me “Honest Abe”.
I made efforts to be different then my father in that regard. I wanted to live honestly, if that were possible. Living honestly seemed like the hardest thing to do, but all of my heroes that I looked up to were good and honest people. I wanted to be like my heroes.
Maybe I could be someone’s hero one day?
So, I just started paying attention to my words more. I spoke less, my words came out more carefully. I stuttered sometimes under pressure, trying to find the right words, but slowly I evolved. I’d spent more time alone in self-reflection, writing in journals and travelling. Everything that opened the mind and caused growth for a person drew me near.
Being an entirely honest person requires more then just the will to be honest. It requires courage, stubbornness and a confidence in yourself. It requires a free mind which is beyond the control of the opinions of others. The will to tell the truth may come easily, but developing the character to actually be able to live as an honest person can take time.
First, I needed to develop confidence in myself, and I needed some humility by realizing just how small I was in this world. Two years traveling the globe helped me with both. Until it didn’t.
When I came back from my travels I fell into my old habits and I lost a lot of what I had earned for myself. I still kind of had a deep confidence in myself, but I was slowly broken down by a factory job and a terrible relationship. The next step that I had to take towards being an authentic person, was to cut out the toxic people from my life. The ones who urged me to be, who they wanted me to be, rather than who I was.
It wasn’t until I was 28 and beaten to a pulp emotionally, that I finally found my motivation to do this and it was hard! Society preaches the importance of family and although this is a really nice thought, it’s not always true. It’s actually funny that some of my worst family members preached the importance of family the hardest! I actually don’t believe that blood makes family. I believe that love, consideration, care and respect make for family. If all they have to offer you is blood, then that’s just a lot of nothing.
I have friends that are more family to me then some of my blood family relatives. Hell, I know some acquaintances that I care more for, than some of my family members – the blood ones. They’ve had their chance with me and they’ve blown it. Twenty-eight years leaves a lot of time for one to fuck up and dig their own grave. Yet my family that I’m close with, I couldn’t be more grateful for. I do believe in the importance of family. The family that we choose!
Anyways, I digress… What was I talking about again?
Oh yeah… Honesty.
No matter what anyone tells you, honesty is worth it. Especially on the important things like matters of principle, or relationships. Don’t get me wrong, honesty is not always welcomed or even well-received, but it’s hard to argue against honesty. It’s hard to devalue someone for being honest. You can argue against the wording perhaps, but not against integrity. Having solid integrity is like wearing a bulletproof vest, because most pigs like to roll in shit and they prefer to roll in it with other pigs. When you’re honest, you take away some of the tools that they can use, because you’re a different entity entirely.
The honest man is harder to con. The honest man’s word carries power. The honest man has strength of character. As long as the honest man can also learn to love himself and to defend himself, he can be a force to be reckoned with. Being honest may never stop you from needing to defend yourself, but when you live from your truth, you’ll never have to worry about being caught in a lie.
Thoughts? Comments? Leave them down below.