Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Truthtelling

My mother says that when I was little she thought I would be a talking head political analyst. She figured that I could be one of those people who goes on the news after the president speaks and distills the truth from the sweet nothings politicians whisper into elaborate webs. She thought this was a possibility because I have always had a talent for saying what is unsayable. I spend every day of my life searching for truthtellers who don't mind honesty to the point of bluntness. When my friends ask how they look sometimes I just say bad. I am unapologetically proud of this. One of my top five skills is judging character.

As always, though, I will tell you where this might have come from because we are nothing if not products of our environment. I've always had low vision. I have never been able to read small font or quickly recognize people or see stop signs from afar or see individual leaves on trees. Any low vision child will tell you that it is tough at times. Many are called stupid. I was loquacious so people rarely thought I was dumb, but many adults told me I was lying. I would tell a teacher I couldn't see something and they'd tell me it couldn't be true. It shook me. What was the truth if my own eyes couldn't provide it?

Anyway,  I've spent my lifetime so far trying to know what the truth is and how to say it. I haven't figured it out yet, but I'm working on it. Last night I was having a meeting with the president of the college and about eight other students when I noticed that very few of the students were being honest. Nobody was lying that I knew of, but truthtelling is about being your best self all the time. The demeanor of the students completely changed when they saw the president. They spoke in full sentences, removed all slang from their language, crossed their legs, laughed at jokes that weren't funny, and generally sucked up. I don't know if the president noticed this, but I found it extremely odd. That's not something I do. To be fair, I'm an excellent suck-up and I don't mind going to special events or doing extra credit, but this was more than that. A classic sign of lying is dropping contractions (I did not have sexual relations with that woman) and these young ladies were doing it all over the place. At the same time they were telling the president how empowered and self-assured they felt they were not able to maintain their natural speech and honest manner. It was bizarre.

I don't think most people can pick up on this stuff. It's one of a couple just natural talents I have. When I was around eight years old a colleague and friend of my father's named Anna came to our house and stayed with us for a couple days. I have no idea what prompted it, but when she was leaving I looked at Anna and said, "You are not the person you think you are." There must have been some truth in it because since that time she has switched careers, industries, relationships, and become a truthteller herself. I believe she was surprised by the advice, but it's the kind of thing that sounds like fact when you hear it.

The takeaway from this is to tell the best truth you can. If you don't, there might be someone like me around to catch you in a lie. I don't often point it out, but I've made note of who is and isn't a truthteller. All my best friends and idols are brutally honest, steadfastly themselves, and critical listeners. If you want to test whether you are a truthteller or not you can pick out two friends you have from massively different potions of your life. If they get along you are the same person with both of them. If not, you should reevaluate your life.

3 comments:

Sean Czarniecki said...

Hi Emily, You don't know me, but I'm known to be brutally honest as well. I just want to give you a little advice that I've learned through the years. Sometimes we need to put on a filter, or there can be regrets. I have always felt that being honest allows you not to have as many regrets, but sometimes holding back on that honesty is the better way to go, depending on the situation. Example (this one still bothers me after 20 years): I was with some high school friends in Boston after graduating from college. We thought of another friend in town and got a hold of her. After a fun evening, she said (to me, as I was someone living in the area) something like, "We should get together again," to which I responded something like, "We should, but it isn't likely to happen." That was the truth, as neither of us had contacted each other until that night due to the other friends making it happen. Well, people all around me were a little taken aback by that statement. I've never heard from her since that day, even though I've tried apologizing multiple times (I am the person who stays in contact with all of my high school classmates when it comes to reunions). I could have just filtered the last part of my statement and still had no regrets with respect to that situation.

I hope you already have those filters available to you!

ANNA said...

Hi Sean, I think everything you say is true, but I don't think that Emily's truthtelling is the same as the "brutal honesty" you describe. Sorry to hear you haven't heard from that one friend after your one statement,but if you apologized 4 times and she hasn't accepted your apology, what does that say about her as a person? And do you still want to see her after that? I little petty and dramatic, in my opinion. Emily has a deep insight and awareness/heightened level of consciousness into situations and people and obviously is intelligent enough to have the filters you speak about. She may not have the life experience yet, but I think she should continue to do what she's doing. The world needs people like her. With respect to truth telling, here's some words from a guru in the context of conciousness and human evolution: "1. Truth - Truth raises your consciousness. Falsehood lowers it.
First, accept the truth. Whatever you’re afraid to know lowers your consciousness.Secondly, speak the truth. If honesty is a challenge for you, it’s because you aren’t being honest enough with yourself. Lies you tell others are shadowed by lies you tell yourself.The more you’re able to accept and speak the truth, the more conscious you become. Raise your consciousness by uncovering and dumping all traces of falsehood from your life. Allow this to be a gradual process. As your consciousness increases, genuine honesty will come more easily to you.Yes, there may be consequences when you switch from lies and half-truths to the full truth, but highly conscious people know that crossing that bridge is well worth the effect.A short-term adjustment is nothing compared to the joys of living honestly and openly. It’s so much easier and less stressful to be yourself and allow others to do the same. Not everyone will appreciate the real you, especially if they’ve grown accustomed to a false version, but that won’t matter once you accept and appreciate yourself." With respect and gratitude, Anna

KathieG said...

Emily, that is one of the things I love the best about you. No sugar coating, polite white lies. I know where I stand with you. If you think my favorite movies and documentaries are stupid, you'll tell me -- and have! xxxxxx