Tell the Truth

Rory Mizen

Write something true.

That’s my mantra. When I’m feeling blocked I pause and remind myself of this. Write the truth. Not the ultimate truth — just something that feels true, something authentic.

That’s what writing is for me, a chance to admit the truth in a space where no one will judge me, hate me or ridicule me (at least, not until I hit publish).

Even as I’m writing this, I’m reading it back and asking “is that really true”, “is that what you really believe”? I’m constantly editing as I go, and every sentence I write is worth questioning. It’s so easy for me to gloss over the truth and write “about” the truth, versus write the truth.

We know when something really hits the nail on the head because it feels a certain way. For example, I spent years trying to find a way to craft a homepage that felt authentic and true for this site, and it was hard. I had “Hi, I’m Dave Booda” then something generic like “I write weekly about blah blah blah…” but it never really felt like I nailed it.

Then one day I was playing around and wrote “Hi, I’m an Asshole.” then immediately after, “at least, that’s what I’m afraid you’ll think of me.” That felt true, and it felt a little scary to reveal that part of myself. That’s often how truth shows up for me, with a touch of vulnerability.

I recently had a great conversation with my new best friend who wanted to be more authentic with her writing. I said “let’s play a game”, and pulled up her latest Facebook post. I said “I’m going to read this sentence by sentence, and after each sentence you give me a number between one and ten, one being a lie and ten being that statement is totally, radically honest. Most of her numbers ranged from three to six. It was confronting, but also extremely useful.

We’re so good at writing things that are just sort-of true and not even noticing that we do it. Instead of speaking directly to the truth we gloss over it. We speed by it at 70 miles per hour and say “oh look at that”.

I want to plan a road trip to see the truth. I want to pack a lunch and camp out next to it, to look at it from every angle, and endlessly explore it’s magic. I want truth to be the whole purpose of what I do as a writer, not an after-thought.

What do I really think?
What do I really want to say?
What would I say if I knew no one would judge me?
What would I say if I wasn’t afraid of being wrong?
What would I say if I were fearless?

These are some of the questions I ask myself, because it helps me get more in touch with the truth.

Truth Muscles

We all got ’em, but if we don’t use them they get weak.

The kind of writing I do for Boodaism has made me more honest and I’m grateful for the way it’s made it harder for me to lie. I can’t hide my opinion like I used to, and I have less of a filter when something might be considered edgy, or when there’s an elephant in the room.

Often when we speak the truth, it’s something everyone already feels and is unwilling to say. It’s a service to others, even if it’s uncomfortable.

At this point, Boodaism has 207 published essays, and every new essay makes me better at telling the truth. In fact, this is true of almost all my writing, aside from some copywriting I do for companies.

This is actually one of the reasons I only dabble in copywriting — it tends to work on different muscles. Copywriting builds selling muscles, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not how I want to express myself as a writer. The thing we spend the most time doing will ultimately become a habit.

What’s really true?
What am I really wanting to say here?
What am I holding back?
What am I afraid of saying?

I say those things, or at least I try to. I’m not always successful, but every time I sit down to write I’m lifting those metaphorical weights, and making myself better at accessing the truth and letting it come out of my hands.

I’ve also become more honest in person. When I have something to say, I say it. If I think something sucks, I say “it sucks”. If I think something is fantastic, I say “this is fantastic”. If a friend comes to me with a business idea and I think it’s shit, I’ll tell them, “I think this is shit”.

I let myself tell the truth, and it’s such a relief.

I’ve become less and less okay with “playing nice” just to make people feel good. Are there times I don’t tell my absolute truth in the moment? Of course there is, I still have discernment, but at the end of the day I’d rather have an authentic, honest discussion with someone that I disagree with than walk away kicking myself for not saying anything.

I used to walk away from conversations kicking myself all the time. My truth muscles weren’t as strong. I would wait instead of speaking up, and by the time I finally got the courage to speak, the moment would have passed.

You Can Always Be Real Somewhere

I don’t expect you (or me) to start telling your parents about the threesome you had last weekend, or announcing on Facebook that you’re going to quit your job in a few months. There are times and places when the truth just isn’t a good idea, and that’s okay. But you should be able to tell the truth somewhere.

We all need a place where it’s safe to be 100% honest and upfront.

For some people it’s their journal, and that’s a good start. For some it’s a blog on some far reaching corner of the internet. For some it’s a group of friends they have coffee with every week. For some it’s a specific Facebook group. We all need something.

I have a friend who created a private Facebook group and just calls it “Inside the Mind of ___(her name)___”. She shoots videos and talks about her life and what’s happening. It’s her space where she can be completely unfiltered and raw. Sometimes she’s happy, sometimes she’s sad, sometimes she cries, sometimes she’s angry. It’s her therapy, but it doesn’t just benefit her. True authenticity is a service to others.

It’s beautiful to witness people be totally real, and it’s surprisingly rare. In a world of overused hashtags and contrived selfies, authenticity is like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

What am I not saying?
What don’t I want to admit?
What am I holding back because it might be offensive?
What do I believe with the whole of my being?

Brad Blanton, the author of the wonderful book Radical Honesty wrote this in the introduction, and it’s worth considering.

We all lie like hell. It wears us out. It is the major source of all human stress. Lying kills people.1

I think we’d all agree that we need to be more honest, but the real question is how?

It’s probably too big of a leap for us to jump on stage in front of a hundred people and spill our guts, or own up to our biggest insecurities with friends we don’t often share that with — so what’s the actual next step?

We need to practice in places with lower stakes, then we need to ramp up and slowly expand what we’re comfortable with. Start that blog no one knows about, and when you’re ready, share a few of the posts on social media.

If you find that you’re censoring yourself, find a platform where you don’t feel like you have to, or create one. Start a small email list of close friends where you can safely share your inner-most thoughts. Maybe after a while you might feel comfortable enough to put it on Facebook. 

What’s important is that you are totally honest, and that you’re witnessed by someone. Anyone. As humans we have a need for honest reflections from other people, and it’s hard to get an honest reflection if you’re not starting with an honest share.

What do you really care about?
What do you really want people to realize?
What do you wish the world understood?
What do you want to shout from the rooftops?

Go for it. Or don’t. If you can’t be totally honest on the platform you’re on, consider not posting anything at all. The world has enough “love, life, laugh” advice. We don’t need your watered down thoughts, we need a shot of 151 proof, straight down the gullet.

Tell the truth.
Write something true.

I highly recommend AJ Jacob’s article in Esquire about Radical Honesty.

The Boodaism Confidential Discussion Facebook Group is a place where radical honesty and dissenting opinions are welcome and encouraged.


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Footnotes

  1. Blanton, Brad. Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth, SparrowHawk, 2005.