Saturday, July 15, 2006

In Defense of the Honest Lie

I'm surprised that you've never been told before
That you're lovely
And you're perfect
And that somebody wants you
I'm surprised that you've never been told before
That you're priceless
Yeah, you're precious
Even when you are not new
Before I begin this post, look at the sentence below, and tell me your INSTANT reaction to what you filled in the blanks with. Don't think about it. Just your gut reaction. Okay, go:

Who ____ you think you ____?

Okay, hold on to that. Now:

In my last post I answered a question about what makes me angry, and many of the words I responded with can be boiled down to "dishonesty."

I hate lies. I hate lying to people, and I hate being lied to, whether blatantly, by omission, or by a disingenuous ass kiss, designed to "get" something from you via false flattery.

And yet, in the last 24 hours, after reading posts by two incredibly smart and talented bloggers, I was reminded of something that is going to make me qualify that statement. I think there is one kind of "lie," which both is and isn't really a lie, which is completely acceptable, and in fact should be told as often as possible. It's what I'll call the "honest lie." And here's why I think everyone should start telling this lie to everyone they care about.

This world is designed to grind people down and make them feel unspecial. From the moment you enter this world, someone is evaluating your behavior and "grading" it on some level; often comparing it against others. "Judy doesn't misbehave at the table/at school/etc. Why can't you be good like Judy?"

We learn it early. We're not enough. Someone is always better at it--whatever "it" is. And we carry this message with us, and tell ourselves it even when no one else is around to tell us. And then we even start telling it to (or thinking it about) other people, too. It's a kind of cyclic trap--one person is made to feel less special, and then starts replicating that pattern on someone else. This was the reason for the fill-in-the blank exercise above. Did you fill the sentence in with some version of "Who do you think you are?" This is what I mean. The world pounds this into our heads. We carry this message around, without even realizing it. It's instant, and it's always there, in the back of our heads, playing in an endless loop: "Who do you think you are? You're not special. You're not cool. You're not good enough." And then we see someone who attempts to act as if s/he doesn't believe that about her/himself and we think, "Who the hell does s/he think s/he is?"

It gets into your bones. Because on one level, you know it's true. No matter who you are (or who s/he is), you WILL never be the most beautiful, the most masculine, the most interesting, the sexiest, the smartest, the coolest, the most desired, the most respected.

Why? Because it's all relative, of course. You could strive all your life to be the coolest person in some sort of scene, and to another person in another scene, you're just an idiot. But sadly we spend more time thinking about all the scenes where we aren't cool/pretty/manly/smart than the scenes where we are.

So, you know, it's nice to be reminded when in someone's scene, we are those things, even if in the greater world at large, we may not be. And even if in the greater world, the person reminding us knows we might not be all those things.

What I'm saying is, we all need a nice ego stroke from time to time. And we're ashamed to admit it, or accept it. And we're also loath to give it to someone else, for fear of being called full of shit. And that's sad.

Which brings me to the point of the honest lie: subjectivity. If I tell you, for example, you are the hottest, most desirable man in the universe, knowing full well you don't look like Brad Pitt (or whomever wins those "hottest man alive" polls these days) and don't get laid like Casanova, does that make me a liar? If you tell me I'm fucking gorgeous and the most whip-smart woman on earth, knowing full well my body isn't anything near Angelina Jolie's and I can't do quantum physics to save my life, are you a liar?

Sure. And yet, no. Not if you feel it. Not if "to me" is added into the equation of your statement.

We all want some adoration. We all NEED some adoration. Just to get through this fucking chore of a life. Or rather, to make this fucking life not a chore.

So please, go on and give people the honest lie. And feel okay about asking for and accepting the honest lie from people. You deserve it. It's okay to need an ego stroke.

So what if it's a little unrealistic? Do you know how good it feels for that average Joe to come home from his mind-numbing job and be told he's an adonis? Do you know how good it feels for the average woman who's just left a party to be told she was the hottest woman there and you couldn't keep your eyes off her all night? I'm not talking about saying it to the guy or woman you just met and haven't fucked yet but really, really want to--everyone says it to that person. I'm talking about saying it to the one you have fucked, many times. Or saying it to the friend you adore. Or the family member you love. The people all around you, who you see or connect with regularly. The one who isn't jumping out at you. The one who probably thinks everyone looks at him and says, "Oh, yeah, that's just Joe over there."

Which, by the way, is everyone. We all think on some level we're "just Joe over there."

So give someone the honest lie. And NOT just when they're down. Randomly. Apropos of nothing. Because it's a lie, sure. But the lie is honest. Start looking at the people in your life. The people you see all the time, but don't really SEE. The people without whom things would be just a little duller, or harder, or less bearable. And then think about what you could say--an honest lie--to make their day. Let them know they're the best--TO YOU.

Tell that woman when she asks "Do I look fat in this?" that she never looks fat to you. Tell that man to you he's incredible and deserves everything he wants. Tell that kid s/he's super talented to you. Go on, exaggerate a little. Just to let that person you value have one moment where s/he gets to turn off that "Who do you think you are?" voice for just one fucking minute. To feel that for even just one split second that someone SEES them, and that they are special--a shining light in this world of dullish mediocrity.

Because, on some level everyone is that. And even if the brain, the eye, the tongue of the outside world would tell you what you're saying isn't true, if you feel it in your heart, it's true.

We don't get much in this world. But we can get this; we can give this. We can do it for each other. And we can break this trap. We really can. We don't have to replicate the "Who the fuck do you think you are?" pattern. ALL patterns are replicable, not just the bad ones. If we did the opposite, people would start copying that instead. We just need to get enough people behind it, and make a little bit of effort to get the ball rolling.

Think. If we stopped. If we just walked around and randomly said, "Have I told you today how _______ you are?" (fill in the blank with whatever your heart feels), and kept doing it, until others got so used to it they started imitating it themselves? Think of how much lighter life would be. Think about how much better everyone would feel about themselves, and how loved they'd feel. Think about what they might be able to BE and DO if they walked around feeling that special all the time.

That's what I want. I want everyone to walk around feeling like this, me included:

So, my darling readers, let's get started.

I think you are the most interesting, smart, sexy group of people on earth. And have I told you lately:
I'm surprised that you've never been told before
That you're lovely
And you're perfect
And that somebody wants you
I'm surprised that you've never been told before
That you're priceless
Yeah, you're precious
Even when you are not new

(Video is "The First Day of my Life" by Bright Eyes. Lyrics above from F.N.T. by Semisonic.)


Blogger Darkneuro said...

Gut reaction was 'the fuck' and 'are'.

Miss Syl, you're one of the people on my blog roll. I have people on there who have provided me a service (Star Tattoo) and I have people that I just dig their work (malung artwork)... YOU? You're included because you're a thought-provoking writer who ALWAYS has something interesting to say and is always a 'good read'. I'm happy to say I'm a reader of yours, and I'm happy that you're a reader of mine. Quite frankly, you're the best Miss Syl there is. Thank you.

7/15/2006 6:29 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

And you, my darling, are a smoking hot girl with a gorgeous brain who deserves a harem full of sexy, tattooed, head-shaven, bespectacled bikers catering to her every whim. And whose every cooked meal and written word I want to eat.

7/15/2006 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno about post, it's logic, or it's overall harmlessness. But to use the suggested response for an anonymous lurker by Passionate Man - thanks for entertaining me.

7/15/2006 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Tory said...

So it is okay to lie as long as your making someone feel better? Then the inevitable will happen, you will start lying to yourself to dull the pain and hide from reality. People are already fed so much bullshit from others and I for one refuse to add more bullshit regardless of the end justification.

I dont see what is wrong with comparing people or knowing that somebody is always going to be better at whatever you do. It all depends on your frame of mind. For me, my competitive nature wants that and needs it. It will drive me to further progress knowing that somebody out there is working harder or wanting it more than me. Maybe somebody who is mentally weaker cant deal with the reality of not being the best or being judged by others.

Fuck everything I just wrote. It all comes down to being comfortable in your own skin and loving yourself for who you are. If you can do those things you wont need others to lie to you and make you feel better.

7/16/2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Anonymous: You're welcome.

Tory: No, I'm not really saying lie to make someone feel better it was a facetious name for it, the "honest lie." What I'm saying is say the truth of your heart, even if it's not true in the wider world. I have people in my life who to me are stunningly beautiful. Yet in truth, they'd never be nominated for a fashion spread. Yet, to me, they are the most beautiful people in the world. Hence, though the world may feel it's a lie or an overexaggeration, it's really the truth. And what I'm saying is people forget how much they adore the people around them, and they forget to TELL them. And I think that should be happening way, way more often.

And yes, being good with yourself is always important. Feeling loved is also important. Emotional nourishment can not only come from within, but from sharing emotion with others.

7/16/2006 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to relay this sad but real example last night, but was distracted by an international phone call - as you can tell by my butchery of the written word.
I know a mildly handicapped little boy (A) who lives for baseball, he is a good friend to one of my SO’s sons (Z). His parents love him, always boister his confidence, and I am sure to them he is the greatest player. Now the rub, A and Z recently tried out for an elite team (indeed A was the impetus for Z even competing), Z was chosen first and A was not chosen at all. Because A believed he was great, this shattered their friendship. So in this case, even though A’s parents told a heartfelt truth, the little honest lie ruined a friendship and deeply hurt both A and Z.

7/16/2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger baby221 said...

*shrug* Personally, I like knowing that I'll never be the best or even necessarily the better. It means I don't have to feel like I should be in constant competition for bestness -- I'll never get there anyway, so I had to learn straightaway that the only "good enough" was what was "good enough for me". Which is sort of the point of your post, I think, except I got there a bit backwards from you :)

But I do know what you mean. I think my boyfriend is the most adorably photogenic man in the world -- and I tell him so, relatively often -- even though both of us know that he'd probably never get even a quarter-page feature in anything remotely resembling a "fashionable" magazine or paper, because he's overweight and thin-haired (not balding, yet, but I'll bet he'll be cute then too :D). It doesn't matter what the world thinks of him; it matters what he thinks of himself, and if I can help him out by giving him my honest opinion of his adorability, then by gods that's what I'll do!

7/20/2006 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That video made me cry.

There is so much pain in long-term, serious relationships, it's easy to forget when we could look at each other like that. It's easy to hide that deep, vulnerable, passion because you know there's more pain coming, and you don't want it to hurt so much.

Ironically, hiding like that just makes the pain chronic, instead of occasional.

You, and other sex bloggers I read (like figleaf), remind me to nurture my relationship and force me to face the ways in which I need to grow.

Thank you.


8/05/2006 5:20 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Swan: What a lovely comment. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I hope you will again.

Though, I also hope nothing I say makes you feel like you should be forced to do anything. I just throw out thoughts, and see what people think. If they made you think, that's the only thing I'm looking for. I want everyone to keep thinking and looking at life as if it's new and always amazingly interesting. Because it is.

I often have trouble remembering this myself. The blog helps me that way. Keeps me looking around me.

8/06/2006 8:01 PM  

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