Discomfort and Honesty

“And you tried to change, didn’t you? Closed your mouth more. Tried to be softer, prettier, less volatile, less awake…you can’t make homes out of human beings. Someone should have already told you that.”

–Warsan Shire

I grew up trying to please people; I said yes to things I didn’t want to do, because of the people I wanted to hang out with, befriend, be loved by, etc. I wanted to be seen and heard, and yet at every instance that I could have been either of those things, I chose to withdraw, to not speak up, to not always be true to myself. In the efforts it took to be seen, I started shrinking into discomfort and fear of failure, so much so that I ended up hiding myself.

How odd is that, that we try to please others so much that we forget to please ourselves? Why do we play small so that we don’t lose big, without recognizing that no one ever won by playing it safe? I know that for me, safe meant secure. Pleasing others meant peaceful relationships, households, and classrooms. Pleasing others translated to being accepted, but accepted for what? For agreeing simply to save face? So that you wouldn’t be mocked for being honest, sincere, or real?

I always thought that as I got older, people would start to see through the disguises and the flashy words. I thought that what someone does behind closed doors, says under their breath, or writes behind the protection of a computer screen, would be recognized as immature, wrong, or fake. Unfortunately, we live in a society that glorifies how someone chooses to appear or what they say on social media instead of seeking to know how someone serves others well, practices humility, and models vulnerability. We often choose popularity, fame, and likes over hard conversations, messy thoughts, and relatable experiences.

In many ways, I’ve stopped playing small. I’ve started saying how I feel, while also intentionally trying to be aware of others’ feelings–and not just to say it, but to be honest when I am asked something. I recognize that there is a time and a place; that with each honest thought, it’s imperative to recognize how what you say will affect others. I also realize that sometimes people will mock you, make side eyes at a friend, or whisper snarky comments, and play it off as a joke. Se la vie. Not everyone will agree with you; different opinions are what make a well-rounded conversation. I guess I just don’t understand why we choose to mask our true thoughts just to get along with people that aren’t going to accept us anyways.

All of this is to say that being honest will make some people uncomfortable. If you choose honesty over comfort, not only behind closed doors or a computer screen, but in your daily interactions…that’s when it counts. Every crack, flaw, messy thought, and mistake, makes you beautiful. Every negative thought or misunderstood moment leads you to be thankful for when you get it right. Each of us is guilty of saying the wrong thing, hurting someone’s feelings, and handling situations without much grace. So when we can, we should remind ourselves that those mistakes don’t define us. How we respond, how we choose to lift others up when possible, how we choose to show up regardless of discomfort…those are the ways we become our best selves.

I’ve learned that some people won’t like you, regardless of what you say. So be honest, and messy, and brave. Let the world see you just as you are, because you can’t change how people feel, and that’s alright.

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