The Reality of Being Real

“Regret is much more powerful than momentary shame or fear.”

I’m an expressive person. I mean, I write a blog about what I think. But part of the reason I write this blog is because events in my life inspire my thinking and make me want to say certain things to certain people. But the problem is that in this era, honesty isn’t common. People would rather keep things under the surface than address a problem out of fear of being judged. In the last year, I made it my goal to be more honest with myself and others and just say how I feel because I figured that most of the time, even if it doesn’t make things better, it won’t make them worse.

But it wasn’t easy. I was judged. I was judged a lot. But what I found out was I was judged less by the people I was honest with, and judged mostly by those around me that didn’t have the maturity to have an important conversation, that couldn’t understand how people that weren’t getting along could actually overcome an obstacle.

Why did this happen? Because the reality is that we don’t know how to be real anymore. We don’t know how to be honest with others or even with ourselves. We give up on people when things get rough or awkward or difficult. When someone doesn’t know how to handle a person or situation, they don’t ask, but instead just disappear on you or talk about you instead of talking to you.

In this last year, I was called a lot of things. I was called selfish. I was called dramatic and overly-attached. Naive. Childish. My words were twisted. And the worst part? I was called all of these things behind my back because the people who judged me, the people who laughed at me for my honesty, didn’t even have the courage to speak honestly to me.

But the thing that I came to realize is, I am sure I was called those things even before I decided to speak my mind. We will always have critics. But more often than not the critics are just jealous that they cannot do what you do or have what you have. So I have learned to let the judgements go. I decided I would rather have critics of my honesty than people who judge me for the things I don’t say. Because when you leave things unsaid, people too often take it upon themselves to fill in the blanks.

This year, I almost lost my best friend because of a culture that teaches us to give up. She had the courage to be honest with me and admit that she hurt me. We didn’t talk for a month. But that time was enough for us to calm down, to realize we needed each other, and to realize that as much as the secrets hurt, they would only hurt more if we had to heal by ourselves.

So we talked and it was hard, but it was important. We learned that friendship goes two ways. We shared the pain of our broken friendship, hated it equally, and that was enough for us to decide it was time to be happy again. We found a way to move on.

And we have been honest with each other ever since. When we do something that upsets the other, we tell each other, even if it is difficult. These conversations almost always begin with “I know you might not want to hear this but we are being honest, so I wanted you to know.” They sometimes lead to hurt feelings, but they always end in some kind of apology, a solution, and a chance to make our friendship stronger.

Sometimes people don’t know how much they hurt you, or how much they mean to you, if you don’t tell them.

Forgiveness only comes from honesty. Because of the forgiveness, and the openness, our relationship is the most important in our lives. We have learned that a relationship is so much more valuable when you fight for it, when you stay and work it out, when you tell the truth. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. But imagine if I had listened to society and just given up? I would have learned nothing and lost one of the most important people in my life.

And that’s what made me most upset in all this: throughout this experience, throughout this last year, I was told over and over again to give up on my friendship. I was told to let it go. I was told that she wasn’t worth it. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that at first, I agreed. But while there does come a time to move on and leave people and places behind, she was definitely worth a conversation. You don’t just feel things strongly towards someone, whether it be anger or love or maybe both, and then just give up and let it go. That provides no closure. I have learned in this past year that it is impossible to just give up on someone or something, without closure, without knowing for sure.

But that’s the problem with our culture. We give up. We “let go” without truly letting go. We give up before things have even started because we make assumptions instead of having a conversation. We don’t have relationships with significant others, but instead we have “things” with people, because we are too afraid to have conversations that define those relationships. We don’t go on dates, we just hang out, because a date assumes a commitment that we are too afraid to talk about. And when we get annoyed with people, or when we decide we are done with someone, we don’t talk about it. Often times people don’t even let you know they are done with you or how you upset them, but instead just disappear or become distant and hope you will figure it out yourself, because it’s less awkward or difficult for them. But what does that do? That just leaves you feeling as if you meant so little to them that you weren’t even worth an explanation.

But let me tell you something: you deserve an explanation. You deserve a conversation. You deserve truth and honesty and you deserve it right from the mouth of the other person involved, not behind your back in someone else’s gossip.

But in order to receive honesty, you have to be honest.

So this year, when everyone told me to give up, I didn’t. I went back to my friend, and to this day some people still don’t understand why. Some people still try to tear us apart, asking me how I can be friends with someone who hurt me. But these people just don’t understand. These people don’t fight for things. These people see us say things to each other like “why did you say that? That was rude,” and they say “I can’t believe she called you rude. That was mean.” But these people don’t stick around long enough to hear the other one of us say, “I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful what I say next time.”

See, most people my age don’t know how to have, or even start, a valuable conversation. We are used to instant gratification. We are spoiled with lightning fast internet speeds, fast food, and even movies and books that preach consistent happy endings where people just realize their feelings or their faults and turn around and apologize. These things cause us to postpone our feelings, our discussions, our relationships. We say, “It wasn’t the right time.” I know because I was the queen of that. I was, and still am on occasion, the queen of excuses.

But life isn’t a movie and relationships don’t perfect themselves with the speed and precision of our computers. We hide behind our phones. We hide behind other people and reasons. We even hide behind a facade of being nice, of not telling the truth because it will hurt someone or skmetnjnf and it’s better if they find out later.

But we have to stop being so selfish. There is never a good time to keep secrets and if you really care about someone, tell them the truth, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be.

I want to know. If someone has a problem with me, I want to know. If I annoyed you, tell me. It’s the only way it gets fixed. And on the other hand, if I made you smile, tell me. If I did something you liked, let me know. That’s how you get along. That’s how you communicate and create lasting relationships and friendships. And that’s a lesson that our world greatly needs to learn.

So what is the reality of being real? It’s very, very hard. Being the person that doesn’t give up in a culture where giving up is the norm is very discouraging. And sometimes it feels easier to give up. But we shouldn’t, because honesty is the best way to live without regrets. I have often heard it said that the things we will most regret when we look back on our lives are the things we didn’t do, not the things we did. I couldn’t agree more. The people you are honest with will appreciated it, if not at first, then later down the line. You won’t always get what you want out of honesty. You won’t always get an apology, you won’t always get the boy or the girl, and you most definitely won’t change people. People only change when they want to change. But no matter what, you won’t spend your life wondering, “what if?”

Regret is much more powerful than momentary shame or fear.

So tell that boy that he hurt you and don’t let him tell you otherwise. You are worth a conversation.

Tell that girl how you feel. Chances are she feels the same way. If she does, make a commitment, and take her on a real date.

Tell the people you love that you love them while you have the chance, even if they can’t say it back, even if they judge you for it. Those who judge you for it are only judging you because you chose to live differently than they do, because you chose to live with a level of confidence and maturity that they don’t yet have.

And most importantly, respect those who have the courage to be real with you, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

Make being real a reality.

“If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it, too. I want them to be able to do whatever they want around me. And if they do something I don’t like, I’ll tell them…I’m not going to let that happen again with anyone else. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to be who I really am. And I’m going to figure out what that is. But right now, I’m here with you. And I want to know where you are, what you need, and what you want to do.” – Peter Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower




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