Art by Instagram user @inktestines. Check her out!
I’ve always been a terribly good liar. Circumstances I had little control over led me to be this way. Or maybe that’s excuse. You see, my parents are the brown, religious, conservative type. And I was a young girl whose head was often found in between book covers. My mind would be in worlds away, whether it was within a typical YA coming of age party scene or a Stephen King butchering. I knew of all the teenage shenanigans I was supposed to partake in and I was determined to not allow my parents stop me from experiencing them. This is the epidemic of first-generation brown Canadians. We’re too smart to just idly sit by and caress our parents every command when we know this is just adding to our naivety.
This rebellious mindset of mine has matured but I can still recall the many times I ran away from home for meager reasons such as my sister ate my sandwich (true story heh). My high school career involved a few infamous lies. Drunken stupors are headaches, high eyes are “my contacts are irritating me”. Late night jams are “Caroline’s goodbye party”, Death metal concerts are “Janessa’s piano recital”. As I walk into my house and loudly voice my complaints about the walk home, outside my boo thang quickly drives away. I can’t help but smirk while thinking “thank god I took drama class”.
You know the classic case of “boy who cried wolf”? It falsely led me to believe that liars weren’t supposed to get happy endings. One lie inevitably leads to another and soon you’ve dug yourself a 10ft hole you can’t get out of. But I thrived in this warped environment. I decked my hole up with leather couches and jukeboxes. Lying was a game, and I was good at it. I knew exactly how to pull on people’s pathos/ethos strings with the power of words, manipulating their feelings to my benefit. Plus, it was an effortful task to care about the ethics with such trivial consequences such as pissed off parents.
Then, this sneaky talent of mine became glaringly indignant. A guidance counselor yelling, tell me I should become a “con artist” because I made my parents, the people who care for me and wholeheartedly trust me, believe that the paraphernalia wasn’t mine. My science teacher bawling her eyes out- the previous night I sent her a lengthy email why it was unfair to assume I had cheated because I had unexpectedly gotten perfect on my lab.
The old me shamelessly took pride in these happenings. But then I began to lie compulsively. I became chained to something I used to be able to so easily control. I’d lie my way through small talk or for the sake of impressing people. I justified this by telling myself that I was just trying to avoid an awkward silence but truth is, I was always trying to reassure that my self-image was intact, that I wasn’t a “shy” girl I had been known as in my youth. I used to keep my lips tightly shut due to the fear of rejection birthed from a speech impediment. Little did I know when the underlying problem, a simple stutter, disappeared, I was still haunted by its ghost. All these constant white lies became into a crutch for a minor social anxiety that’s its perpetuating by lying would blow out of proportion.
It’s taken me 18 years to learn that people aren’t my toys. I’m not some princess who gets to twirl them in my fingers, bang them against the floor, and toss them in my treasure chest along with all my other forgotten possessions. The last thing I want to be is a pathological liar. Maybe if I was going into business this habit of manipulating people would prove beneficial. But I’m going into journalism, which is built upon “the values of truth and transparency and intellectual service and candour”. Liars spill insecurity from their seams, are narcissistic cowards, selfish, jealous and overall just very uncomfortable to be around. They become isolated and their lives become meaningless wastelands, easily forgotten and dismissed. I’m not going to allow myself to end up a tumbleweed.
The realization of how little I needed to lie didn’t occur to me until Grad Trip. During my stay at Punta Cana, I was the most honest version of myself. I was funny, down-to-earth, talked to whomever I wanted, about whatever I wanted. I used to think alcohol culture existed largely because it injects one with false confidence. But in reality, it just dissolves their inhibitions so they can be themselves. It doesn’t give you anything, but rather demolishes the masks we wear.
We don’t act boldly unless a backup plan, alcohol, exists to cushion our fall in case of possible rejection. We attribute our most honest thoughts and feelings on a bottle that contains a drink that tastes like piss. But I owe myself more than that.
I leave the office and walk towards “Top 10”, a new tattoo store that’s opened up on Bloor/Yonge. Al sloppily greets me and forgets I have an appointment. I’m 90% sure he’s stoned and I fear he’s going to be the one etching the ink into my skin. Turns out, he is but the lengthy hour wait reassures me he’s come down enough to place a simple word on top of my left ankle. “Candour”. The last 5 minutes I’m squelching my eyes shut and my hands are in tight fists. Boy, does the pain accumulate overtime. I tip him a 10 for putting up with all my annoying newbie questions, and make my way to find Sarah so we can have food babies (aka burritos) and then make our way to catch Explosions in the Sky play at Nathan Philips Square.
This tattoo represents a step of courage for me. Does this mean I won’t fib my way out of consequences every now and then? Heck no, I’m not a saint. But I won’t use people like they’re my playthings. I’m going to use the power of words to help people, give something back. It’s sort of my own little version of “stay real”. Grad Trip taught me that I, alone, am enough. I don’t need fabricated hobbies and comments about liking things I couldn’t give less a shit about to get people to like me. Sometimes, silence is golden. I won’t wait till Friday nights and party balconies to spill my guts to someone. Candour is my personal reminder to how refreshing it is for someone to like you when you’re being you’re complete, genuine self. Candour is my reminder to always be that genuine self, because it’ll be refreshing no matter if the person likes you or not.