The Struggle With Honesty

The Struggle With Honesty

A quick call for compassion.

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We've all heard it before-- honesty is the best policy. However, I don't want to talk about honesty in its traditional connotation of simply "not lying." I want to talk about a certain social honesty, a bluntness, that some people naturally carry (myself included). I hear many people claiming they would be so much better off if only they had straightforward, honest friends, family, or significant others. At the same time, though, I often see those who are just that, immediately being written off as rude or insensitive. So what's really going on?

This phenomena brings me to pose the question-- are blunt people really rude, or are some people just too sensitive? Of course, I recognize that context and tone play a huge role in this, and really the answer varies across different circumstances, but as someone who is usually labeled off as rude, I would really like to provoke others to really think. Often times I will word my responses tactfully, still saying what I need to say, but saying it politely, and am still met with offense. It's a constant struggle that sometimes leads me to blaming myself; I offended someone, so therefore it is my fault. The catch is, though, is that many people I've encountered this with, almost take advantage of this, allowing me to take the blame for something that may not really be my fault. In addition, sensitivity seems to be supported more rather than honesty. I have been snubbed for the sake of sparing the feelings of others, even if what I was saying were also my honest feelings and opinions, suggesting that some feelings are more valid than others.

So although people want honest, straightforward people in their lives, I genuinely believe that not everyone can handle these types of people. Despite what they say, some people are subconsciously (or consciously) drawn to what is easier to digest-- a watered down version of the truth, or a lie altogether. It becomes a game of smoke and mirrors, and some are willing to play, no matter how much they preach for honesty. Likewise, perhaps these same people cannot take any form of criticism and it is not so much an issue of the other person being rude, but an issue of allowing their fears, anxieties, and insecurities to project themselves as an impenetrable sensitivity.

It's really just food for thought. Sensitivity and tactfulness are so subjective, that it really is an issue that could be debated forever. All I'm saying is, as someone who usually gets the shorter end of the stick for being honest, is that maybe it's not always me, or anyone else who is telling the truth--maybe both parties should be held accountable.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject. It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease. The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own. We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time. Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death. However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me. In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident. A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life. I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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4 Things I Wish High School Me Knew

Every day has a purpose.

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People don't give high school enough credit for having the ability to shape your life. It can build you or it can break you and often times there is no in between. As I enter into my senior year of college I have reflected a lot on my college career and how it really has been the best years of my life up to this point, but I know that without a doubt my life would have been so different in I would have known these things as a high schooler.

1. Your life is valuable

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7

2. You aren't defined by your singleness. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Solomon 2:7

4. You aren't going to fit in

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

4. Your clothes aren't going to fit forever, don't spend all of your money on them 

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15

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