I use this blog a lot to call other people out on their behavior. Whether they’re complaining about not being addressed by their chosen pronouns, or anti-vax bullshitting on Jonas Salk being worse than Hitler, I’m always quick to put people on blast when they’re being stupid. But like most humans, I tend to treat myself like I’m somehow infallible. Somehow, I’m immune to my own objective opinion, no matter how stupid I act or how shitty some of the things I say are. But if I’m truly, truly an honest person, that means looking at myself. It means holding myself accountable for my own actions. And doing that is uncomfortable because it forces me to look myself in the eye and say “you know what, Essa? You’re kind of an asshole.”
Tonight, I took the opportunity to look back at some of my old writing, at some of my blog posts and saw myself being incredibly mean. I said many intentionally offensive things in the past and I brushed those things off with a phrase that makes me cringe.
“I’m not being mean. I’m just being honest.”
I had this idea that somehow, me being brutally (and I mean brutally) honest all the time made it ok to also be an asshole all the time. To explain how I feel about it now, I’m going to quote from the finest movie ever to grace the silver screen – “The Shawshank Redemption”.
There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.
OK, so not all that applies but I love that damn speech and couldn’t bear to cut a single bit of it. Seriously, I have never wanted to bang Morgan Freeman as hard as I did during that particular moment.
Now that’s a good example of honesty because in that statement, I was being honest without simply using honesty as an excuse to be cruel. Sure, it’s a cringy statement. No one wants to think of my chubby ass going to town on Morgan Freeman, but it was honest in a good way. It was me admitting a vulnerability without shaming someone else for it.
Because that’s the problem with the “I’m just being honest” statement. You’re shaming someone else and then acting like they’re wrong for being offended. When I used to say it, it was because somehow, I got this idea in my head that being honest and being cruel were mutually exclusive. If you were being honest, it meant people couldn’t call you out on being cruel.
That’s a stupid, stupid thing to think.
If you honestly tell your mother she’s fat, it’s not going to make her lose weight. It’s going to make her cry. If you honestly tell your partner you want to fuck their brother, it’s not going to make them feel more connected to you. It’s going to make them worry about you fucking their brother. If you honestly admit to committing a felony, you’re not getting away with it. If anything, it’s more likely to send you to jail.
Honesty doesn’t undo the bad you do with your actions. The statement “I’m just being honest” is, ironically, you lying to yourself. You’re trying to convince yourself that being honest means you’re not a complete fucking asshole.
My point, past self, is sometimes you need to say, “fuck being honest” and keep your opinion to yourself. You’re not so god damn important that everyone needs to hear your honest, useless opinion 100% of the time – especially when that opinion will hurt them unnecessarily. There is a way to say things without being a dick. If there wasn’t, diplomats wouldn’t exist.
Past Essa, this is future, wiser and slightly less intoxicated Essa saying to you, you’re not “just being honest.” You’re just being an asshole. Stop it and grow up.