To Honesty and Truth- Whatever the Hell They Are
Trevor Noah. David Sedaris. Jenna, from MTV’s “Awkward”. “The Moth” storytellers. A particularly gutsy teenage girl from my high school class with completely confusing yet totally relatable humor and a borderline dangerous knack for calling things out as they are. Sharing stories in the brilliant way that has been done by all of the above requires a terrifying amount of honesty about oneself and the world; one that is brutal and genuine and, many times, necessary.
It is easy to confuse honesty with unattractive boasting or crippling, self-deprecating insecurity. It is also easy to confuse honesty with delusion or insensitivity. It is hard to appreciate honesty. It also hard to accept the kindness of someone who deprives you of honesty as a cushion of protection, either for themselves, for you, or for both. Honesty and truth are complicated, right? And on top of that, there’s always that pretentious, possibly-stoned philosopher figure to challenge what truth is and how there are multiple truths that exist at the same time. Since there are multiple truths, what does that make honesty? A meticulously filtered and cropped ‘gram-worthy post with the image and hashtags to be honest about a truth or the part of the truth most desirable for mass consumption?
With things like social media and TV shows like “Awkward” it has become increasingly more difficult to be present in the world honestly. Because simply existing in both the real world and the World Wide Web creates multiple truths that make up “you”. With social media, there are versions of you that are partially or mostly true which are displayed for the world, completely open to judgement. The honesty (or lack thereof) that comes with social media is deluding the world by presenting a pristine version of our lives while being insensitive to ourselves by not embracing the darker moments that we have learned not to share. While the internet has opened us to be able to say “oh thank god, I thought I was the only one who did/thought that” in reference to a Buzzfeed article or a meme on Facebook, we have been closed off to the parts of our lives we should be honest about because self-worth and mistakes and purpose is not about likes or follows. And in a mildly cliche show about the acceptance of the most critical creatures of truth and appearance on earth (high schoolers), “Awkward” — which I definitely binge-watched and finished within the past 72 hours — is amazing at portraying the quirky, painfully awkward girl who works her life out and finds herself by being herself (except for that season 4 slip). This trend in YA and TV glorifies the weird outsiders who don’t like doing their makeup and aren’t typical. While I am all about individuality, there has definitely been an overdone and misguided fascination with the “quirky trope”. The idea is that people should be appreciated and respected the way they are — not for personal tastes and interests — and it is pretty common now for pretty girls who enjoy mani pedis and are head cheerleader to get a bad reputation. But that sort of (definitely) goes against the idea that created the “quirky girl”. Which is precisely why I applaud “Awkward” for not only allowing us to fall in love with the adorably eccentric main character, but also the girly, type-A best friend, and the rich, brutally honest self-identifying bitch.
Honesty about myself and the world surrounding me on micro and macro level has been and is riddled with challenges. I have been battling the idea of my truths being “braggy” or “not nice to share”. If I say that I am a good dancer, I am full of myself. If I say that I’m a bad dancer, I am fishing for compliments. Though, both if-statements and their corresponding perceptions are truth and therefore honesty.
In a very long and ranty manner, I am introducing myself to the path towards a level of honesty I should have. As a child (and frankly now), I would only listen for the version of the truth that I wanted to hear. Disappointment, failure, and rejection were things that I only took in pieces. I didn’t get first in a race and that was because I tripped and it’s funny. I had an A- in math because it’s not my thing and I didn’t study. I was rejected from a college because I had too much competition from my region. Everything was good and I always did acceptably well enough because the things that go wrong are not or only partially my fault (or cosmic comedy). And it is a strange and strangely wonderful way we humans cope. While real life is filled with circumstance and nuance and nothing is ever entirely one thing, the complicated nature of just about everything does not need to completely obstruct honesty. If I can easily be honest with myself about 10 out of 300,000 truths, it is up to me to be honest about 20 or 30 or 50 or 100 or 20,000.
To honesty and truth — whatever the hell they are.