The Price of Honesty

Once upon a time, when I was younger, and knew everything, I thought that it was okay to let people know I didn’t like them.  I thought that being misanthropic toward people meant I was being honest.  I’m an introvert, so my default setting is to not like anyone, especially when I first meet them.  Therefore, if someone irritated me more than the normal why-do-I-have-to-interact-with-other-humans reaction, I would make sure they knew that I didn’t like them, using snide remarks, sarcasm, and occasionally out and out ignoring.

Yes, as an “adult,” I often acted like a 5 year old.

In my defense, I have made friends with some strange characters who didn’t have boundaries, and in the cases, the only way I found to discourage them from following me around was to be rude.

But still, that’s no reason to treat other people badly.

I had been sort of coming to that realization for awhile.  I realized that the people who I admired most were kind to everyone, and didn’t treat others badly, even when they deserved it.

Then, I started work at a new place, and most everyone ignored me.  They weren’t mean; just indifferent.  I didn’t feel welcome, except for two people who went out of their way to be helpful and kind.  I realized that the “honesty” I thought I was selling was really snake oil.

How you treat people says more about you than it does about them.  What do I want my behavior to say about me?  Do I want it to say that I’m judgmental, unkind, and disinterested?  Or do I want it to say that I’m accepting, kind, and helpful?

I still prefer to be left alone, and it can be hard to get interested in new people, but I try to make an effort, at least to smile and have a conversation, because that’s how I would want someone to treat me.

What do you want your behavior to tell others about you?

Why I Love PostSecret

UnknownBy now, I pretty much assume everyone in the world is familiar with PostSecret.  For those of you who aren’t, it started as an art project, where Frank Warren had people send him postcards with secrets written on them.  He wanted 365, and years later, has had millions come to him.  PostSecret has raised money for suicide awareness and the Hopeline.  Many of the secrets are heartbreaking, but almost as many are uplifting.

In our social media- celebrity obsessed- selfie world, this seems honest in a way that other forms of transparency don’t.  Thanks to Facebook, I know what people had for breakfast and where they went on Saturday.  I get to see their latest pictures and know their hobbies, especially if they workout or run.  But I don’t know their hopes and dreams.  I don’t know what keeps them awake at 2 a.m. or if they’ve found true love.  I don’t know if they cry at Hallmark commercials or sneak cigarettes when no one is looking.  I don’t know that I need to know these things.  After all, everyone has secrets, and if we were all to post only the truth on social media, I’m not sure if that would make the world a better place, or just a sadder one.

PostSecret though, is a way for people to tell their secrets anonymously.  I wonder if I’ve known anyone who’s had their secret posted online.  I feel connected to a community of people.  Sometimes I see secrets and think, “Oh, you too?  That could have been my secret.”  Sometimes I just want to give the writer a big hug.  And sometimes I want to smack them.  Secrets are as different as the people who write them.

I guess I love PostSecrets for their honesty, and I appreciate the anonymity.  I try not to be judgmental, but I honestly struggle with it when people come out with too much information in a non-anonymous forum.  I think that people who participate in reality shows are idiots.  But when it’s anonymous like this, I just feel like it’s brave.  Maybe it’s because people on reality shows or who post certain things on Facebook just seem attention seeking.  Whereas writing a PostSecret isn’t attention seeking; the people behind them are just looking to connect.

The new PostSecret book just came out, and I’m excited to see if Santa bought it for me.  😉