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I recently had a colleague at my new job tell me how admirable it is that I put myself out there on my blog, sharing my thoughts honestly and being very vulnerable on a public forum. Since then, I’ve been reflecting on why exactly I do this and the following memory crept its way to the forefront of my mind:
Several years ago, I went on a date with a man I’d met on a dating app. We hit it off on FaceTime and decided to go out to dinner and a movie. Long story short, after dinner, as we sat in the movie theater waiting for the film to start, he turns to me and asks how I think the date is going. I say, “Good”. Any other normal person would’ve left it at that. Instead, I turn to him and say, “I think you’re attractive but I’m…not…attracted TO you…”. Mind you, the overhead lights in the theater were still on. The previews hadn’t even started yet…
Every time I tell this story, people look at me with a mixture of disbelief and humor. As if they’re trying to figure out whether the story is made up or not. I can assure you, it most certainly is not made up – my embarrassment from that moment still lingers, confirming that it indeed happened. All that to say, I have an obvious, and oftentimes detrimental compulsion to tell the truth. I’m not trying to sound noble here. While I think I have a firm ethical foundation, I see that there is value in bending or withholding the truth at times, especially if not doing so causes nothing but harm. But for some reason, lying is difficult for me.
Another story to demonstrate:
My best friend and I went to a pet store. Upon checkout, the employee at the register asked if it smelled weird in the store. Again, any other person with some sense of politeness, would’ve said something like, “Not sure, I haven’t really noticed”. But that’s not what I said. I said, “It smells like garbage in here” (which, to be fair, it did!). Her eyes widened in shock. Granted, why ask if you don’t want an honest answer, ya know? In any case, my friend hasn’t let me live that moment down and it’s been over 5 years.
I just can’t help it! I have too many opinions, thoughts and feelings and they spill out all over the place – whether the moment is opportune or not. Perhaps it’s because there have been too many moments in my life that were unnecessarily difficult because of a lack of communication. Hurt feelings, wrong impressions, etc. because one or both parties weren’t speaking openly. Transparency is key for me, in both personal and professional relationships. Lack of transparency was one of the key reasons I left a previous job. In the end, it does more harm than good to hide and lie – at least in my experience.
It’s funny because when my colleague made that comment, it came right after I had made a pact with myself to not do that as much at my new job. In my head, I had told myself to keep to myself, be polite, don’t be so outspoken – I was essentially trying to silence myself for the comfort of others. Well, that didn’t even last a week. People were asking my thoughts on things and I already had opinions and not all of them positive. So I shared them. First I thought, “Crap! I’m supposed to be more quiet and agreeable”. But as I’m reflecting on some of the anecdotes I shared here, I realize that being “quiet” and “agreeable” is inherently not in my nature and I’d be doing myself and others a disservice to pretend otherwise.