If I’m being totally honest, I say a lot of things that aren’t completely honest.
I lie…a lot.
Mostly to myself and those closest to me.
Anne Lamott talks about writing a “shitty first draft”. Essentially, you write a rough draft with all your thought and feelings and impulses. It’s normally complete crap, but you just get it out there. It’s for your eyes only. It’s a safe, free place to express it all.
I do this with most of my feelings. When I feel anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, I get out my notebook or my laptop and get it all out. I write it all as fast as I can until I can breathe calmly and think rationally. I write out my first draft and it normally reads like a three year old throwing a tantrum. I can yell and scream and swear and be completely ridiculous, because it’s my space and my time and there aren’t any eyes but mine.
Just because these are the things I’m writing in those moments, just because those are the words I am using to express my feelings- it doesn’t necessarily make them a representation of my “honest views”. If I write, “I AM SO MAD I WANT TO PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE FACE”, that isn’t more honest than me writing later, “I was overwhelmed, I was scared, and I was angry”. One is not inherently, “more honest” because it had more explosive emotion behind it. The first one came out of anger, the second from calm and reflection. I would argue that the second is much more honest and true to my real feelings.
I see a lot of people who seem to be confused about what it means to “be honest”. My shitty first draft, my rants, those are not necessarily “honest”. When I get angry, I might yell a bunch of things that I don’t think through, things that just come out. That doesn’t make them true. The fact that I said them when I was mad, doesn’t make them an accurate representation of how I actually feel.
When I am frustrated and I start telling people all the things they did wrong, this isn’t honesty. Just because something comes out in a moment of big emotions doesn’t make it more honest. It’s a reflection of my inability to practice self control. It’s a reflection of my inner 3 year old. My inner 3 year old is kind of a jerk.
This is along those same lines as “kids are honest”. I don’t buy it. My kids start sobbing because the banana was “weird”. That isn’t “honesty”, it’s how they are choosing to express their feelings at the moment. Most of the things my kids get upset about have nothing to do with that specific moment, but are usually a build up of emotions they haven’t dealt with…or they are hungry/tired.
I am an adult. I should know better than to just spit out my shitty first draft on the nearest person/social media platform. I’m working on writing out my first draft before having difficult and uncomfortable conversations. I am practicing self control and not acting impulsively when it comes to my words. I want the words I use to actually be honest, not just emotional. My actual feelings can be full of emotion, but I want to make sure they are true, not just impulsive.
I see so many people valuing “honesty”, but it seems less like honesty and more like unfiltered opinions. They look up to people who say whatever pops in his or her head. To me, that isn’t something to look up to. I would prefer to listen to people who pause before they speak. Those who take time to think about their words and the implications of those opinions once expressed. Someone who understands that words matter.