Honesty is a value I hold above most others, in life. If you have been reading my blog, you know that it is in fact very important to me. But the interpretation of honesty has changed drastically for me, over the years. And I believe it is still evolving, though I would say I am in a happy place with my interpretation of it right now.
I was not a particularly honest child, when I look back. There was a lot of lying to save my hide from whipping as a kid. Lied through my teeth about test scores, getting in trouble in school, or anything at all that could get me into trouble with my parents or teachers. I don't think honesty as a concept meant anything to me, as a child, all I cared about, was to not get into trouble with elders. Hiding bad test results, tops the list ofcourse, and the number of stories I invented, I think I deserve some award for that! I have many funny tales to tell about those years now, hopefully someday to my grand-kids.
Then as a teenager, especially during the college years, it seems honesty came to mean, saying just about anything I thought or felt. It was all about speaking the truth. There was no stopping, no controlling, no censoring, what ever was spoken, had to be the truth. If a friend tried on a new body spray, that I did not particularly like and asked me how it smelled, prompt was the reply, "Yuck!". The fact that she felt bad, and I obviously knew that she did, did not make much of a difference. No filter was in place. being brazen was equated to honesty. It happened with me, and most of my friends, besides the few very sensible and matured ones. Though we knew, that giving an honest opinion or account of something may cause hurt or pain to someone, we dished it out anyways, because that was being outrageously honest! Honesty somehow was defined by being rude, it basically meant being able to dish out the ugly truth, no filters. I don't know if it was teenage arrogance, or if it hits everyone, but it definitely took a strong hold of me. While honesty in itself is a wonderful thing, but what I had then, does not seem nice to me today. Honesty cannot be a great thing, if it hurts can it? While the rest of the honesty bit seemed to be on track, but it was the blurting out of the unpleasant, without a thought, that marked 'honesty' back then. And that is what I distinctly remember as 'my honesty' in those times.
During the teenage years and for years into my twenties, my honesty was also defined as being an open book to everyone. Honesty equaled having no secrets in my books in those years. It had been true for most of my life, but these years were marked by the the nothing-to-hide attitude. It seemed like the whole world needed to be aware of every detail of my life, and that meant I was honest(huh??? Even I cannot get the logic of it now). This included defending my choices, explaining them in depth and more, to people who could not care less, and who did not need to know. But the foolish me equated that to being honest, and that is way it was.
And now, just a few days back, while chatting with a very dear friend, I realised, where my honesty really lay, and how calming this kind of honesty is. We were discussing something, and she pointed out very honestly that she felt I was being overly affected, and critical of something. It was completely honest, it was her clear and true opinion. And yet, she added, that she was just being bluntly honest, without any diplomacy, and she hoped I did not mind it. It did not really matter, since we are quite close. But those words mattered, because it showed that she cared, and that she did not want me to hurt, even slightly. And it is the fact that she cared about my feelings, more than just putting her honest opinion across, that ensures that our bonding remains. And that today defines honesty for me, truth that has meaning, and is pleasing. I don't need to be dishonest, all I need to do is care. Care about the feelings of others, and be honest in a way, that is truthful, but not hurtful. My honesty is not defined by aggression, nor is being genuine equated with having my life published for public consumption. I am honest but no longer brazen, candid, but not transparent. Honesty is now, what spreads happiness, and never ever hurts. It is what is honest in deed, more than words, and the act which is done with purity of heart and an honest purpose in mind. And I love honesty, the way I understand it now.