The Importance of Telling the Truth
One of the most transformative statements an individual can make is truth telling and objectivity. In a world where we are constantly being bombarded with subtle-and not so subtle—messages about who we ought to be, it is a bold statement to take a stand for personal authenticity.
“The telling of your stories is a revolutionary act.” — Sam Keen, writer
At its best, this is what a memoir is – a statement that declares “this is who I am, who I think of myself as being.”
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Lest you think that truth telling is only about revealing scandals and unmasking sexual abuse, let me assure you that it is more often about smaller issues, issues more within the realm of the everyday experience. Perhaps you were never ambitious of worldly success. This has embarrassed you but you would like to make a statement for another set of values other than financial success. Or, perhaps you have been attracted to people of your own gender and would like to bear witness to that but still fear repercussions. Or, perhaps you were a parent but, if the truth be told, you and your children might have been better off if you had not parented. As you can see, “telling the truth” need not be earth shattering, but it is about incredibly essential features of ourselves.
Be Daring in Telling the Truth
The daring part of this “truth telling” work occurs strongly at the beginning of the writing—when the “juices are flowing.” It is then that you ask, “Do I dare say this?” You get nervous and can feel yourself sweat. You get up from the computer many times and can’t believe that you are actually writing what you are writing. But, you persevere and later the piece of writing becomes one you work and rework and the fear of telling the truth seems to diminish, to be come less visceral.
Later, however, as you make your writing public—i.e., publish it or share it with others, you tremble at the boldness once again of telling the truth of your life, the truth that may not be consonant with norms of society or family expectations. Others—an audience you both craved and did not know would be so intimidating—will now judge you. You fear this audience will not only judge the morality of your choices but your very essence.
This is the moment when, more than any other time I believe, writers fear insignificance.
But, if insignificance there be, I say—and I hope you will, too—let it be MY insignificance!
Therein lies the challenge of truth telling, it can revolutionize your life.
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