On honesty and integrity.

How do I go about becoming more honest?

I’m 28 and have been smoking since I was 20 and I’ve never told my parents. I just don’t want to deal with the condescension and judgement that will come with my upper class liberal parents knowing that I smoke. And that’s how I deal with most things, if it’s easier, and cleaner to deal with a white(ish) lie than to deal with the truth then I’ve always gone with the lie.

Problem is, pretty much everyone I interact with is subject to at least one game-changing lie. My ex, who is still one of my best friends, doesn’t know I cheated on her. The girl I’m currently with doesn’t know I had a one-night stand two days before we got together. My best guy friend doesn’t know his wife propositioned me. My sister doesn’t know that I think she’s settled and given up her dreams. My boss doesn’t know that I don’t respect him. No one knows how much I drink or what goes on between 2 and 5 in the morning (and here we are…). Yada, yada, yada.

It’s not like the lies are impossible to keep track of, they’re very simple ones, but big ones, and they make life easier, but I’m tired of lying.

Thing is, I have this duel sense of dread that I can’t figure out, half of me wants to tell the world what’s going on, “To thine own self be true,” etc etc. And half of me is terrified that if I do that then everyone I know will feel betrayed and turn their backs on me.

I want to be an honest person (that IS the best policy, yes?), but I don’t know how to get there without ruining my life as it is. Or is that the answer? My life as it is isn’t all that great? Or maybe I’m being dramatic? My real friends will stick with me regardless? See, I’ve tried to think this through and now I’m just confused and need an (un)biased observer.

You talk a lot about being honest, but you also acknowledge an uber-Republican family who has no clue about your life. I’m sure they love you and would do things for you that your friends who you’re more honest with wouldn’t do. How do you reconcile that?

Can you be honest with everyone? If not, how do you decide who to lie to?

I’m not as desperate as this letter may come across but I’d really love to hear what you have to say.

Contrary to popular belief, honesty is not the best policy. Rather, integrity is the best policy.

Lies are no big deal. Everyone lies. The trick is to lie without betrayal. My republican family doesn’t know about my wild side because they don’t want to know. Not really. That’s why they don’t get the whole truth, because to give it to them would be a betrayal. It would hurt them. It would cause stress and strain because they wouldn’t understand, and so I lie. The greater virtue is to prevent the betrayal, not the lie.

The thing about integrity is that it requires inner strength and self knowledge. When your best friend’s wife propositions you, there are situations where integrity demands that you immediately tell your friend and there are situations where integrity demands that you shut the fuck up and protect him from the truth.

You have to know the difference, and you have to be strong enough to act on your convictions.

That’s why you come off as a little bit whiny. You’re basically complaining that this stuff requires strength, and you’d rather just unburden yourself in the name of honesty despite the pain it would cause people.

Come on, man. Have some integrity instead.


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