One of my earliest childhood memories occurred on a playground in summer camp. I was playing kickball and peed on myself at 2nd base.
I was 8 years old, so I knew better.
I didn’t do it because I was engrossed in the game.
I didn’t do it because I had a bladder disorder.
I didn’t do it because I was vying for attention.
I did it because I was shy.
I stood at second base and peed on myself because I was too shy to ask where the restrooms were.
In some circumstances, I’m still that shy kid who peed herself on the playground. I tell people what they want to hear. I avoid conflict. I don’t do anything that could make others feel uneasy.
The 8-year old me only appears during difficult conversations. Most frivolous conversations we have every day — about the weather, a new work assignment, opinions on the latest news headlines – I speak my mind, with little regard to how my truth makes others’ feel.
But difficult conversations – when I have to confront a friend or respond to a question in a way that may hurt another’s feelings, I am reticent. I imagine the worst case scenario of what could happen if I speak my truth.
Recently, someone asked me to plan her 20th wedding anniversary. I knew it was a big deal for her and her husband. I also know how much work it would require and I was not up for the challenge. But the way she asked – with puppy dog eyes, insisting that I was the best one for the job – I just couldn’t say no.
I am now planning a party I don’t want to plan.
I perpetually avoid conflict. It is a behavior that permeated my 20-something life. I never wanted to rock the boat and make a friend mad at me. So I’d keep my thoughts to myself, letting my them fester within me. Unspoken words have put strains on my relationships.
Now, at 33, I have no time to waste on being phony. There is a goal that I am aiming to achieve. I want to be a better version of myself and I cannot be better if I am not authentic.
The truth sets us free! I am living proof.
In January 2015, I was a Master’s degree holding professional working a minimum wage dead-end job. I had applied to many jobs in my industry, connected with former classmates, friends, former employers, and other associates. I went on more interviews that I could count. I followed all the typical job search tips and still could not land a job in my industry.
Emotionally, I was exhausted. I was lonely. No one could relate to my misfortune and would stylishly blame my mishaps on me. Frustrated and slightly depressed, I shut down, refusing to discuss my job struggles with peers who I perceived to have thriving careers.
In the midst of my turmoil, my friend called one day and challenged me with these words:
What are you doing at that job? You have a master’s degree. You’re too good for that job. Why don’t you return to school and reboot your life?
She went on to say what I already knew. My current job was never going to promote me. If I stayed, I’d never do anything more than answering the door and accepting FedEx packages.
I was angry when we hung up the phone. I didn’t speak to her for several weeks.
My friend, on the other hand, was unbothered. She knew that my hurt was temporary. She knew the truth would ultimately propel me into the career I deserved.
The conversation occurred four years ago and since then, my life has changed immensely.
I graduated from the program she recommended. I launched a fulfilling career in healthcare administration. My role offers a lot of room for growth. My compensation is commensurate with my education and background. I have the most career fulfillment than I’ve had in a very long time. I am eternally grateful to my friend for opening my eyes and confronting me at my lowest moment.
Truth always pisses me off initially, but after some time to reflect, I usually realize what I needed to do in order to become better.
In the past, I would avoid truth-tellers. They always made me feel uncomfortable.
Nowadays, I seek them. I embrace the truth-tellers in my life. I rely on them to tell me when I am wrong. I rely on them to tell me when I am being a jerk.
I also aspire to become like them, so I can cultivate more meaningful relationships, and perhaps pay forward some of the insight that I’ve acquired from truth-tellers. Afteral, you have to be cruel to be kind.
So, S&T what’s your relationship with the truth? Are you the truth-teller in your circle? Let’s chat in the comment section below!
Fitness Journey Updates:
Some of you inquired about my fitness journey so I will be sharing my progress at the end of each blog. I have been working out for a total of 10 weeks and quite frankly, the scale has not budged. I gained 2 pounds of muscle and lost a couple pounds of fat. While I welcome a toned physique, I am not satisfied with my progress. OrangeTheory kicks my butt 3 to 4 days per week and I feel that my body doesn’t reflect that. I will spend the next couple of weeks changing my diet. The experts say that weight loss and body sculpting is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I wish I realized that sooner.