I’m Just Being Honest

Positive Honesty in a World Obsessed with Being Brutally Honest

Colleen Mitchell
Dec 11, 2019 · 4 min read
Picture from Pexels

“I’m just being honest” is the cop-out for those who believe that honesty is brutal.

It’s an excuse to say what you really think even if the words will cut to the bone, since cutting to the quick is too shallow for people now in the third millennium.

“I’m just being honest” saves you from personal responsibility and perpetuates the misconception that honesty requires brutality in the absence of trust.

But I want to just be honest with the things that build us up, not the ones that tear us down.

I want to just be honest about all the good things that make the world brighter.

Why people hold good things close to their chests baffles me now, even though I have spent my life with those good things silenced inside instead of spoken.

I’m just being honest now when I say just how much someone means to me.

I’m just being honest when those I care about come to mind and it feels fake or inauthentic to keep those thoughts to myself — the world needs more expressions of honest appreciation.

I’m just being honest that now I can’t stop it all from pouring out like a river through a broken dam.

Growing up, my mom told me not to wear my emotions on my sleeve, and so I thought that meant I shouldn’t show or tell anyone what I really thought — even if it’s positive.

I thought that maybe there’s such a thing as too positive.

I’ll admit I was never good at really stuffing them away until I grew up more.

It taught me to fear how others might react to such honesty.

It taught me that no one cares, not really, and to show such emotion is a cry for attention.

It taught me that it’s improper and pathetic to show the rawness and the ragged edges when something hurts inside when the inside is the only place we ever hurt at all.

I’ve cried in a dark and empty office, still experiencing self-chastisement for crying at all even though I often want to cry on a comforting shoulder, to grieve a loss while holding on to people I cannot bear to lose.

Tears were easier as a child, and even though the tears as an adult bring catharsis, I am fighting my conditioning that it’s not okay to show emotion to the world.

It’s true that humans are suspicious of change since change can signal something bad.

Change scares, change brings uncertainty, and yet change is the only constant.

I am changed, yet I am still the same.

I have never before been more honestly me.

I’m just being honest now about all the things I carried in my heart even before the call that changed my life, the moment marking the divide between my before and my after.

Now I’m just being honest out loud.

I carried deep appreciation and gratitude in my heart before.

But after, I wrote it on paper with measured strokes of the pen and felt a blanket of psychological peace settle on my shoulders when I watched the recipient read it in front of me.

I didn’t know how locked away I kept myself before.

After, the locks are broken, the gates are open, and to hide it all again is death to my hope for the kind of human relationships I write about in stories people never read.

I thought I knew what life would bring me before.

But after, I realize that nothing is certain and everything is vapor.

Everything is hevel.

I lost chances before — years’ worth of unimportant, meager chances to say something meaningful to someone worth saying it to.

I seize those chances now with crystal clarity that the after encourages gentle honesty and a vulnerable heart.

Fear and uncertainty are before — feeding mystery and doubt that positive honesty could actually make a difference.

Courage and confidence are after, even during painful grief and clinging to comfort given with something as simple as a hug.

Even if it’s suspicious, and even if it’s personal, this side of me is now the bold facet to my character in a world that shuns vulnerability, authenticity, honesty, and appreciation for those who make a difference in our lives.

I’m just being honest.

This essay is a 20-minute response to someone important to me expressing benevolent suspicion around my now much more open and vulnerable self.

My father passed away suddenly just before his birthday in November. I fell asleep to the “before” and woke to the “after,” which I have tried to portray here.

Nothing scares me more now than losing the chance to express gratitude and appreciation toward the people who have impacted me in incredibly positive ways.

Colleen Mitchell

Written by

Mental health, self improvement, productivity/organization, and Type 1 Diabetes. Pick your path @ linktr.ee/inspiredforward

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