First of all, if you have not seen Brené Brown’s discussion on “The Power of Vulnerability”, please watch it here. James Altrucher talks a lot about honesty on his blog and eBooks: check out a summary of his opinions on honesty here.
Most human relationships involve some degree of risk. With every introduction, we open ourselves up to a heart-wrenching amount of rejection and humiliation. It’s hard to show our true colors while knowing that at any given moment they could be shot down and sabotaged.
However, the freedom that comes with being complete honest about yourself is the most exhilarating feeling. It’s like skydiving. The simplest way to start is to be completely honest about what music you like. Say it: “I like Coldplay”. Next time someone insults a band you like, I triple dog dare you to defend that band. If you don’t know an artist, just admit it. You’ll at least avoid looking like these people. Most people who are telling you about the music would probably be delighted to share it and flattered that they might have introduced you to some new tunes.
(Vanessa Hudgens at Coachella)
The most honest and vulnerable people are quality comedians. Good comedians open themselves up to their audience completely. James Altrucher describes it as “bleeding”. The more raw and honest, the more hilarious. Since I have been practicing being as honest as possible, I have gotten about ten times funnier. This is because the root of comedy is the unexpected, and no one expects you to be honest, especially if you hold the very vulnerable position of teenage girl. The funniest shows are those with very relatable characters with clear and consistent flaws, like New Girl. Schmidt is one of my favorite TV characters of all time, because he is only his unencumbered self.
There are very real obstacles to honesty. Most of them revolve around disappointing people we like and respect. The hard truth is that if someone can’t take who we truly are, they probably don’t deserve to be in our lives. However, if we practice complete honesty, most people will be drawn strongly toward us, unless our honesty becomes a foil for their own self-conciousness. If you don’t like and accept yourself, even the parts of you that are dirty and ugly and poop every day, than it’s going to be hard to be honest. This is summed up succinctly by my girl Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook:
You can only take this to a certain degree. There is a line between honestly and cruelty that is clear, but easy to cross. I advocate being honest about yourself, your own feelings and your own interests, while pretending that everyone else is honest, too. If someone you love is annoying you, tell it to their faces and do not assume malice. If someone you do not love is annoying you, drop them from your life or interact with them as little as possible. Don’t talk about people behind their back, except if you are praising them.
This is the way I have chosen to live my life. Sometimes I give in to conformity and let myself hide my honesty, but now I recognize when I’ve done this, as opposed to letting a dull, unknown pain obstruct most of my relationships. Yesterday, I told a boy that I was tired of chatting and he should probably kiss me or let me take a nap. However, I also let someone insult my best friend at UT and couldn’t summon my strength and conversation skills quickly enough to convey my anger honestly. We win a few and lose a few, I suppose.
To practice being honest, I recommend watching comedy and recognizing the achey feeling you get when you are dishonest. Hang around very honest people. Read good books and allow yourself to have passionate interests.
When you are very honest, you will often feel the pain of someone rejecting the most real parts of you. You will also open yourself up to true love and acceptance. The pain carves out a space for the happiness.