The Importance of Being Honest (or: “Why it’s Okay to Like People”)

There is no shame in being hungry for another person. There is no shame in wanting very much to share your life with somebody. — Augusten Burroughs

When did we decide it was so cool to hate everything?

My favorite thing about working with kids is they are completely unashamed to be themselves. They like what they like and they don’t like what they don’t like. They are their own people — small and goofy and wearing their shoes on the wrong feet and owning every little quirk.

Somewhere along the line, people got really, really afraid of being embarrassed. We would rather (as I put it to my friend Casey) “burst into flames” then be turned down or turned away.

We tone down our nerdiness around strangers, afraid they might alienate us for liking Firefly or Shakespeare. We hold back dance moves in the grocery store (sometimes). We don’t tell people we like that we have crushes on them. Or we do from far, far way (i.e. the Internet). We are so scared of letting our freak flags fly. Mainstream society wants us to be different, but not that kind of different oh god what are you doing what are you wearing go right back inside and change why are you dancing to ABBA we are in an airport right now. Not that I know anything about that.

Wait. Read that back to yourself. I just did exactly what I said I shouldn’t do in a blog post about why I shouldn’t do it. Why? Was I trying to be ironic? Was I nervous some boy will read that and think I’m weird and not ask me out to a coffee-bowling-hiking date (hint)? Maybe. Maybe I’m scared of being rejected for being a super big weirdo. It’s a tough issue though: We’re all super big weirdos, ans we’re all (deep down) afraid of being rejected.

It’s more than just rejection, though. The sting of rejection will (slowly) fade out, and we will grow from our experiences. Our fears run much deeper than embarrassment.

We are terrified of being vulnerable.
And it’s ruining us.

Think, just for a moment, how your life would be different it there weren’t lasting social implications connected to everything. If it was okay to tell someone, “Hey. I think you’re hilarious and caring and also pretty cute. If you wanted to get dinner or coffee or hold hands, I wouldn’t say no,” and not worry about forever ruining a friendship (or a comfortable silence).

Imagine if it was okay to say “I just don’t want to hang around you a lot anymore. You don’t make me feel good, and I think I deserve to feel good” if you wanted to move on from a toxic friendship or relationship.

Imagine if you weren’t trapped in an ever-thickening web of social norms and engagements and responsibilities. Imagine if you actually had control over your own life path.

The secret is: you do.
You just can’t be scared of it.

I am not trying to present this from a holier-than-thou pedestal of wisdom. I routinely choose to admire humans from afar, to squelch my emotions, to seem less than I am. But for what reason? Why should I dim down myself because of some preconceived social norm?

So this is my first step: a publicly announced foray into honesty. Whether it means speaking up or sitting back, I want to be my most genuine self. I want to feel full and grounded, not superficially balancing on a wire of facades.

A while back, I read a great piece by Rachel Lewis on Thought Catalog called “Tell the People You Love that You Love Them.” It has one of those bits you love and connect with so much, you kick yourself for not finding the words for it first.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Balancing the risk of getting hurt with the risk of everything working out. I think what we don’t realize is that the risk of happiness far, far outweighs the risk of embarrassment.

It’s okay to have a silly crush on someone. Sometimes I can’t stop smiling or saying dorky things, or maybe my body just wants to be a little closer. The mind games we play with ourselves is getting ridiculous. There is no commandment, carved in stone, that says “Thou Shalt Not Double Text.” Or “He Must Text You First Or Else You Just Look Desperate.” Or “Wait Three Days To Schedule The Second Date.” If you are happy, run with it.

All of this is not to say that Facebook messaging someone first will always go well. You could get a “haha cool.” You could be hugely underwhelmed by her banter. You could get no response at all. Things don’t have to happen like they do in quirky romantic comedies with a strong female lead (thank you for that category, Netflix).

They also don’t have to go horribly wrong. I have to remind myself daily that liking someone’s status on Facebook does not need to have any bigger, deeper meaning. That it’s okay to not be a pore-less magazine lookalike. That having it all figured out is vastly overrated.

So let us be wild and free from embarrassment. Let us learn how to respect our bodies, love our curves and edges. Let us stay up talking to someone because they make our minds light up. Let us be with people who, as Maya Angelou said, lift us higher. Let us be unabashedly nerdy around each other.

Let’s learn to like stuff again.

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12 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Honest (or: “Why it’s Okay to Like People”)

  1. Amen sister! I grew up in LA where everyone is striving for that aloof / I’m a celebrity / please don’t look at me / but look at me thing. I’m trying to undo all those years of damage and work on being more of a fan. The truth is, everyone loves a compliment even if they don’t seem like they do. We’re all searching for validation in one way or another.

  2. Hanna —

    This post confirms your brilliance. I am amazed that you manage to be as insightful as you are in every one of your posts or in every conversation we have. It’s an honor to know you.

    So, let’s do some journalism together.

    1. I have no idea. I struggle with that too, and I don’t really know how to solve it. It’s a work in progress, and I truly think it just involves risking embarrassment.

  3. i stumbled upon your blog. .how i know not. .all the way fom africa. .and all i can say is you spoke to me.We do think alike.Beautiful.Im thought hunter at wordpress.God bless you

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