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.