In a world oversaturated with lies, distortion of reality and manipulation of facts, feelings and shapes of things, perpetuated and widely spread by the media, social media, popular culture, society as a whole and both the people we know and don't know, true has become an increasingly rare commodity, for some even a luxury. Although usually praised as an ideal, its presence is lacking in our everyday discourse and interaction. It has become unpopular in certain circles and regarding certain topics, as it is unapologetically raw, straight, unretouched, non-filtered, real - everything we want our public/social media/faux personas not to be.
However, to me, it is an existentially fundamental principle, an ideal inherent to my being and the one I am not willing to give up on no matter the cost. It's a standard for treating others and yourself and simply a matter of respect.
The Early Revelation of My True Nature/The Pocahontas Story
There is an anecdote from when I was a child which my mother loves to tell her guests at dinner parties. She retells it relentlessly, never minding my presence in the room, and without changing even the tiniest detail of the story. For her, it is an early proof of the particular sensitivity and sensibility of mine that were quite striking for a five-year-old and which became more evident and intensified as I grew up.
The story goes how a friend of my mothers took me to the movie theatre to watch the newly released Pocahontas by Disney studio, fully aware of my incredible fascination with film, animation, and story-telling and particularly with the bold and beautiful Native American princess. I remember feeling the thrill circulating through my body just from seeing the characters come alive on the big screen before my bare eyes, as well as the persistent infatuation with the leading female character that was like no other I've seen before or after (roots of it became more clear to me when I grew up and learned about the true story of Pocahontas and became aware of the subtext).
I was so consumed by the magic of the big screen that I basically sang and talked through the whole film without any restraint (which is something I unintentionally do even today if the spell of the big screen works on me), but the ending is what shook me to the core. In a full theatre, with tears of rage and disappointment in the corners of my Bambi-round hazel eyes I shouted: "Sammy, you lied to me! You told me that love conquers all and it's not true! Love lost in the end and you lied to me!" The poor girl had to bribe me with candy just to get me out of the theatre voluntarily, although other visitors found my reaction to be cute and nothing more but a childish tantrum.
But my mother saw beyond what everybody else did. She recognised the hurt from a betrayal of trust and a dark shade of disillusionment right there in the teary eyes of her baby girl, just one of the many life was yet to bring.
That is about when I started to despise lies in any shape and form and became inherently suspicious about the things people say and claim to be true, even with the best intentions. After the "incident", I took an oath to doubt and question everything and anything; call on bullshit whenever I smell it and no matter how full the theatre is; honour the truth; respect the truth-teller and allow myself to believe only in the illusions I made up myself just for the sake of making through the greyest of days. I actually believe that a conscious illusion is sometimes exactly what you need to add some colour to a gloomy reality and that it can do you no harm if you know what you're getting into an how to get out of it (some call it daydreaming, others idealism, but what do I know?!).
This is how I learned that I am in my core a genuine truth-seeker, a truth-lover and a bullshit-caller who will never ever apologise for it. And I proudly state that I am beyond salvation in that matter.
No matter how we see it now from the adult perspective, the fact is that our parents tried their best and did what they could and to the best of their abilities to prepare us for the independent life and adulthood. For women, in particular, I feel that our mothers definitely took the extra mile and made some incredible effort to prepare us for the challenges of living as women in a world tailored to men (and we applaud them for it!).
They might have said a few white lies and sugarcoated the harsh reality in the process in order to postpone the inevitable disillusion as well as to comfort and protect us in our fragility and the blessed ignorance of youth. We cannot really blame them for that, although we probably once did in the rebellious craze of our adolescent years. However, now we must be aware of the sugarcoating we once oversaw and be capable of a healthy dose of criticism to manage to look at life as it is and without the pink filter.
Busting the Myths
As we reach our adult years, we are taught quite a share of life lessons which include dismantling some of the myths we were told before and unveiling some unpleasant truths of adulthood. That is why I decided to reflect on a few most common of those myths and, rather than rejecting them completely, try to put them in line with reality. As we've all learned so far, life is not simply black and white and you have to give it credit for some nuances.
To acknowledge that fact and avoid being too cynical in my reflections, I used a few adverbs of frequency to relativize the sugarcoated truths of adult life and busted a few myths that were benevolently transferred to us (or to me at least).
1. You don't always get what you deserve.
Vis maior, fate or cosmic balance, if you choose to believe it and whatever you wish to call it, does not work that simple. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work for something or how much you believe that it is rightfully yours, you simply don't get it. Also, people who do harm don't (seem to) get punished for it every time. Or is it just that our ant perspective is what's keeping us from seeing the bigger picture and recognising the balance in real life? Hmm...I will leave it there for you to think about it.
2. Love does not always conquer all.
Although love is the noble ideal we naturally strive for and many of us willingly choose to believe in despite the odds, the reality is that love alone is simply not enough. There are many other relevant factors, forces and complex circumstances that can become obstacles and prevent love from finally prevailing. That is the truth we must bear in mind to avoid more disillusionment and hurt, but it should not prevent us from embracing love and enjoying its healing power. It is by far the most divine of all the emotions we are capable of and definitely worthy of a risk - again, every time and in spite of.
3. Sometimes only winning is what counts.
We've all been comforted many times with a line that it is important to participate and not necessarily to win. That is what we were told usually only when we lost - in sports, in school, at work. However, we all participate in a game or a match with the goal to win, right? Is there, frankly, any other goal at all?! So why is it so hard to admit it? Are we really that afraid of losing? What's wrong in not being No. 1 every now and then? I say - nothing!
Winning and losing is part of life and we learn from both our wins and our defeats. However, if you are really betting on a win, then you better put your best effort and make sure you do win. History only remembers the winners.
4. What does not kill you, hurts you (badly).
Although it is commonly stated that what does not kill you, makes you stronger, I think that there is something about that statement left unspoken. The reality is that the punches we get and endure through life leave us hurt, bleeding, limping or scarred.
However, I don't think that's a bad thing - quite the opposite. The bleeding stops, wounds heal, the pain is soon forgotten and scarred skin gets rougher as we toughen up. Don't be afraid of some pain - that is how we grow.
5. Money can sometimes buy you happiness.
No matter how relentless we are about denying it, the truth is that we live in a material and materialistic world in which money is the ultimate power and everything/everyone has a price. Although I am absolutely for the spiritual and mental power we should develop beyond the material reality we live in, I still acknowledge the fact that, when properly used, money can make people happy. It can get you into a school you've always wanted to go to, pay for a medical treatment that saves lives or buys out someone's freedom and independence. Money does no harm on its own - people do.
6. Friends are usually not forever.
The reality is that life has a way of taking its course and people do change in the process. Relationships and friendships break or simply die out over time and it is completely normal and expected.
However, that does not diminish the value of your past relationships nor the intensity of experiences you shared with other people. It is completely fine to go on living your life without some people, as well as to welcome new ones into your life. The value of memories and human experience defies time.
There are many more myths of adulthood I would be happy to bust and many white lies to unveil, but there is no point in me having all the pleasure. Feel free to share some of your own revelations here.
May the Truth be with you!