This Short Illustration Will Teach You The Value Of Being Transparent
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Politics and Activism

This Short Illustration Will Teach You The Value Of Being Transparent

Why do we lie to those we care about? Why do we filter the truth?

This Short Illustration Will Teach You The Value Of Being Transparent

Sarah typed the words one last time. She held the phone the way a toddler holds a large cup. Fingers curled around softly and not quite reaching all the way around. Her thumbs tickled her senses as she tapped each letter, gradually slowing down until she reached the last period.

This marks the 2,421st message she never sent. That is not to say that she kept a draft of each of these messages. Or that she simply deleted the whole thing and put away her phone.

These words were never sent because in the mere seconds following their creation in which the mind can process thousands of thoughts, she had decided she had written far too much, that her words might come on too strong, and that that wasn’t what he really wanted to hear.

So she erased thousands of words, hundreds of explanations of how she was really doing, especially when it was bad, dozens of emoticons that might reflect how she felt too much, but one message. One theme was left completely abandoned.

After all that she was still left with words, but they were words filtered through thousands of feelings and second-guesses. Of insecurity, doubt, fear, of hesitation. What was left was not the truth anymore. It was edited, fabricated, meant to read the mind of the other so as to receive the most desirable reaction. To a play a game that no one ever won.

Because more times than not, he did the same thing. Only he read her limited-word response and her absence of negativity as showing that she didn’t really invest that much. That she was always happy and didn’t really need extra support. He didn't think that she really cared. She was aloof and callous. And more often than not, because of that, he could barely come up with any words to respond with himself. So he was left repeating the process back, filtering words he wished he’d said before he even pressed his thumb to make the letters. His words were erased in his mind before they ever got to the page.

They both liked each other for a long time. But the other one never knew, and eventually, they faded away from one another. Destined to never fully put themselves out there. Because, vulnerability, well that’s just the worst thing imaginable. It leads to pain and uncertainty, all things we don’t want to go through to get to somewhere better. Because we think we can guess everything someone else wants to hear or say. Because we want desperately to say the right thing at the right moment. Because we’re waiting for that moment. And 2,421 messages later, we have lost so many words we can never get back. Words that actually had meaning. Oh, what it would feel like to really be transparent. And at the end of it all, that moment we longed for and waited for has passed 2,421 times and that’s time we can never get back.

We don’t say what we need to because we’re afraid. We think that rejection is worse. But it’s not. Someone never hearing the words that someone really felt about them, or never speaking the words they truly wanted to say, that is the worst thing imaginable. Rejection hurts, but after it ends, we are left with more time. More time to say things that we want to, to people who will care if we just take the chance. But hesitation, hesitation never ends. And this thing called time that we desperately need and cling to is running up the counter, along with those messages.

How high is your filtered message count? How many feelings have you erased and filtered and watered down to mean less than the original. How many truths were never really sent? How many times does it have to happen before you realize there’s a better way?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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