I’m a big fan of honesty, but when I first started performing stand up comedy, I worried about my parents seeing the more telling parts of my act. Once, after I put a video on Youtube, my dad’s friend told him, “I watched your daughter’s video. If that was my daughter I wouldn’t let her on stage saying that stuff.”
My dad looked him square in the eyes and said, “Well, lucky for her, she’s not your daughter.” Boom. Roasted.
I never went into writing and performing wanting to censor myself — especially for my family. If I did, I’d never get anywhere. I’d never write any jokes. I’d never publish any writing. Eventually, I just said “F-ck it” and now, I don’t worry about that anymore.
I revel in honesty because I never want to feel like a fool. Here’s an embarrassing example: In the 10th grade, I had my first serious boyfriend. We’d walk off to a secluded place, make out for a couple hours and then part ways. I was always giddy after those make out sessions because it was nice to have a boyfriend I really liked. He seemed happy too. He was always sweet to me. He never pushed.
Then, one day one of my then-boyfriend’s more macho friends came up to me in front of a group of people and said, “Hey Gaby, why do you always give [name redacted] blue balls?”
I was confused. What was this doucheface talking about? What the hell were blue balls? My boyfriend and I didn’t have any problems. If we did, he definitely would have talked to me about them.
I said I didn’t think he was right about that. I hadn’t given [name redacted] anything. To which this dirtbag replied, “That’s the whole problem! You’re a prude.” Then, everyone laughed. Honesty could have spared me that humiliating experience. And so in every relationship since, I’ve wanted — probably, annoyingly — tons of honesty.
Today is National Honesty Day, according to Twitter — a place where trending topics happen, as I understand it, because one person tweets something and then everyone else goes, “What? Why is THIS trending?” In this case, National Honesty Day is a real annual holiday. It’s meant to encourage people to be more honest and more accepting of honesty. I can get down with that.
One of the biggest problems people have with honesty is that they expect a reward simply for being honest. Being honest doesn’t mean that the other person is obligated to like what you’ve just said. One time, a guy I’d just hooked up with told me he was also hooking up with two other people I knew. One time, my friend’s boyfriend told her that she had better legs, but his ex had better breasts. One time, a girl told our entire Non-Fiction Writing 101 class that she’d had consensual sex with her biological brother. You can’t expect solely positive reactions to these revelations just because you had the “guts” or decency to be honest. There’s a difference between honesty and cruelty, for instance.
That being said, whenever I think about what the perfect relationship would be, I always envision one where I could tell my partner anything and he or she would accept it without judgement. Not necessarily blindly like it, not necessarily ignore it, but just…not judge. (That’s one for my therapist, huh? Yikes.)
So what are some things we could stand to be more honest about on this national holiday?
Sometimes I have terribly inappropriate thoughts about people I should not be having those thoughts about. Sometimes it’s people I could actually make something happen with, but I’m too scared of rejection to ever say anything and then two years go by and then they’re engaged and then it’s like, “Hey remember that time we almost kissed but then I ran away? That was crazy, right? Sooo…” Donezo.
Too often, I take the “do nothing” approach because I’m scared of what the other person might say if I admit I’m into them. What if they laugh at what I want? Admitting a sexual desire is a huge risk. It’s scary to rock that boat. Sometimes I look at my phone and think, “I could text them flat-out no-bullshit ‘I want you.’ Maybe they’d come over and we could really start something.” But instead, I get under my covers and go to sleep.
Same goes for people in relationships. If you’re into some freaky sex stuff and you haven’t brought it up yet because you’re embarrassed to tell your partner and it’s making you miserable, I say BRING IT UP. Putting it off only makes you more frustrated. Either way, you’re screwed. But hopefully, it’s in the good way.
I’ve been performing stand up for the past three years. I’m on the cast of a house team at an improv theater. I act in video comedy sketches. Would I ever admit to anyone ever that I’m a performer? Nope. I say, “Well, I’m really a writer. I don’t perform.” Really, Gaby? Then what is it you’ve been doing every day for the past three years? Oh? Performing? Nut up and admit you’re an actress.
The same could be said for anyone else with a crippling fear of failure — and even, of success. If you admit you really want to do well at something? And then you don’t get very far? Oof. Terrifying. So then we think it’s better to just lie to ourselves about even wanting that success. “Nah,” we say. “We never really wanted that anyway.” That gets you nowhere. Stop it.
In honor of this day, here’s something I’ve never told anyone. I have a re-occuring nightmare where my little sister is kidnapped by a psychopath, dismembered and left in a Dumpster. In the nightmare, I have 24 hours to save her life and I fail.
One of my biggest fears is that someone in my family will pass away unexpectedly or in a really gruesome manner. I’m sure it’s a common fear, but sometimes the thought of it happening makes me so anxious, it keeps me awake all night. It’s okay to be scared because this is an inevitability. Even if everyone in my family dies peacefully at age 80 or whatever, we’re all still going to die. Morbid, I know. But now, being honest about it, I realize all this means is that I love my family and want to cherish the time I have with them. That’s a kind of warm and fuzzy fear actually.
So yes, this is another silly national holiday. But it’s a nice thought: let’s all use today as an excuse to be more honest.