I used to affirm the notion of ‘treat others nicely.’ But then, I changed my mind. I think, it’s far important to treat people honestly. First, we can’t be nice all the time. There are times when you just want to yell back at your siblings when they first do that at you. Secondly, sometimes you need to be verbally mean to give some people lessons that life is never about to hear what they want to hear. Third, how many genuine niceness can you spot? It might be fake. But, you deny that possibility and society insists that being nice to others is a virtue and lets people live faking around.
So, how honesty works in this matter? If later we agree to treat each other honestly rather than nicely, it will change the way we react to “undesirable” manner—according to society, of course. When one is not in the mood of talking to you, you won’t feel resentful. You’ll feel okay about that. It’s not that she is not treating you nicely—as you usually assumes—she is just being honest with herself and let’s try to understand her.
Honesty gives us space to respect inner instability every individual commonly obscure for the sake of being nice to others. Unexpressed feelings are bad for our emotional health, you know. We hide those then call ourselves “I am solid. I am a strong person.”
Are we, really?
The fact is humans are fragile. Being nice, especially when you don’t want to, is one of acts that purposely covers our fragility, prevents us from circulating the importance of being honest with our own selves. You might now think that as a consequence, the world would be full of people exposing their true feelings and saying mean words is soon the new norm. It might sound awful, but we’re paying a good price actually.
When we do “bad” to others, then they say the truth that it hurts them, you’re saying sorry. Treating others honestly opens a habit we usually find it hard to do: ask forgiveness and forgive. We’ll be living in a world with people who make less unnecessary scenes. Say bye to drama queens!
Look. Being honest is the cheapest therapy. You don’t need to see psychiatrist or take some pills to release your stress—that caused by your unexpressed feelings you bury deep down that someday might turn into traumas. Here, dishonesty is the root of unhappiness. Start being honest with yourself. Go treat others honestly.
I met this Acehnese young lady a couple of years ago and realized that we have too many things in common. Not in way that we have similar interests, but in a way that what she did and does is what I did and do. Even things that happened far earlier before we see each other. First fact, she was a returnee from European country. I sighed a relief that Italy is not her host-country. She was in Switzerland. But, before our departure, we were kinda in trouble, messing up with same person from the organization. Returning home, we both were against the National Examination; she went protesting in the street as far as I remembered; I murmured on a piece of essay.
This essay competition stuff is responsible for our very first encounter. I got the 1st place and she’s the winner of the previous year. And this luck happened to both of us when we just finished high school and were freshmen majoring philosophy—only we’re in different university. I was happy to find out that her moving winning essay is nothing similar to mine, until I discovered an argument on culture claim war with Malaysia also appeared in my essay. She keeps on saying that me following her paths. No, I don’t, definitely! (But since she was born earlier, so, I can’t argue: you’re right, I’m your “true follower”.)
It hasn’t stopped here yet. We were going through a sort of “spiritual & existential” journey, an attempt we deliberately take to redefining what it means to be both woman & moslem. We were concerning the same issue and people around us might see us in disbelief as these infantile, silly selves become so thoughtful and courageous to finally made up their mind.
Also, she once shared her crush experiences quite in detailed. She warned me that out of thin air, I might have the same story. Geez. I actually do. Now I can only beg to Universe to please, surprise me. Don’t let me having a future scenario of being together with someone for quite some times, who is around six years older than me, studying the same major like the former—only he’s coming from different alma mater. If that really happens, we have a plan: we’re going to travel to India.
(P.S. She once threw an idea of me staying with her and I responded, we’d better be neighbors. Houses near some heavenly view beach. A beach nearby a forest, I’ll specifically request. Because, we’re not born for malls.)
It is a future letter from 30 years old soul who is trapped in an early 20’s body. She is appreciating the effort of practicing thoughtfulness since the beginning of adulthood so she is on the right track to get the chance living a life that she deliberately defines.
Dear my younger version of me,
I thank you for having been busy being ‘you’.
To be aware of that “be yourself” jargon is not equivalent to “be different(-self)” is such a brilliant baby step. It is definitely okay to listen to 100 billboard song chart like most of people do, to buy clothes at reasonable price shop the 99% goes to, to watch films the common chooses to. Having average personal taste is fine because in the age of mass adoption, becoming cool is a hard work—thank God you don’t waste your time trying to be one. The universal hunger for differentials is ridiculous, indeed. Conformity now is about everyone striving for distinction in the same way. Being a nonconformist, like you proclaim in your twitter bio, is just politically correct.
To distinguish between what you think you are supposed to do and what you really want to do is an essential job, too. I am glad you realize that becoming one’s self is not to become someone else. For the path less traveled you courageously choose, for the stances less supported you fearlessly defend, for the thoughts less agreed you still confidently speak up, you do live a life, you know. Sometimes being socially disapproved is necessary when you’re building your (temporary) identity. Independence is about prioritizing what inner voice tells you and knowing when to forego the approval of others. Keep on exercising that.
Now I am checking few things you need to make sure you have done them in your 20s (or promise me you would do before your body hitting 30.) Do you fall in and out of love lightheartedly? If you still don’t, please do soon. Also, please get the happily-ever-after scenario out of your mind. It only exists in Disney’s. Realistically speaking, the only thing relationship promises is a break-up: boyfri(end) & girlfri(end), fri(end)ship. However, there is good in every goodbye, no? So, worry not. Remember that us humans are destined to leave scars. When things end, it’s okay. It hurts for a while, but then wounded scars will find their own way to recover.
Next, as you always grow a day older, do you make mistake better? For those willing to learn, mistake is an excellent teacher. Do focus on failure. It might be the way to success. The more lesson-learned experiences you share to your job or scholarship interviewer(s), the more valuable your post-adolescent period is. Mistake is an infinite source of interesting stories. It electrifies your ordinary life. It’s a humble reminder that perfection is a myth.
Let’s see how happiness is doing. I believe it is impossible to be consciously happy. Happiness is one of those things that may be recognized only retrospectively—after it is lost. Plus, happiness is never meant to be permanent. To close this letter, let me cite one of my favourite philosophers, Hannah Arendt, who writes this on The Human Condition (1958): ‘There is no lasting happiness outside the prescribed cycle of painful exhaustion and pleasurable regeneration, and whatever throws out this cycle out of balance—poverty and misery where exhaustion is followed by wretchedness instead of regeneration, or great riches and an entirely effortless life where boredom takes place the exhaustion … ruins the elemental happiness that comes from being alive.’
Siapapun tak bisa berbusa-busa bicara tentang visi misi pendidikan dan kesehatan gratis jika untuk soal mendasar (jaminan untuk tak diambil paksa, diculik dan ditembak di luar hukum dan dengan sewenang-wenang) tak bisa dipenuhi.
Untuk apa imunisasi gratis jika setelah dewasa nyawa seorang anak bisa diambil dengan percuma? Untuk apa pendidikan gratis jika setelah seorang anak jadi cerdas dan lantas mengambil sikap kritis lalu bisa diambil begitu saja dengan alasan mengganggu ketertiban dan mengganggu Sidang Umum MPR? Untuk apa lapangan kerja jika setelah bersusah payah membangun rumah hasil bekerja sekian lama akhirnya harus terusir hanya karena keyakinan yang berbeda?"