Things We Could Be More Honest About

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?

Our desires.

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.

Our goals.

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.

Our fears.

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. TC mark


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  • Mardoqueo

    Bastante bien

    • zlady6

      bastante bien? muy bien!

  • Guest

    Loved this.

  • Greg

    *an* improve theater

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think that theater could be improved!

      jkjk – thanks.

  • Nishant

    You KNOW it’s a bad-ass dumpster when it’s spelled with a capital D! :P 

    Thanks for this article. I agree with you! 

    • Anonymous

      Dude, that’s AP Style. Dumpster is a brand name — so it’s with a capital D. Same with Jacuzzi.

      • Nishant

        Time for honesty… I have a recurring dream in which my mother scolds me for not eating enough fruit. She offers me watermelons, apples, guavas, bananas and mangoes, all of them tasty as well as healthy. I ignore her every single time, for some unknown reason – maybe adolescent rebellion or maybe that unreasonable obstinacy dreams give us. The dream spans over days and months and years, as I grow older and life takes its many turns. I live, I love, I lose and I learn. (I alliterate. Almost.) One fine morning, I wake up spitting blood. I find out I have a terrible illness and I’m going to die. I remember, in an immediate flash-back, my mother’s stern voice warning me that not eating fruits would make me unhealthy. And just like that, my dream takes me back to childhood. It’s morning, time for breakfast and I’m sitting at the table. My mother stands over me. She offers me a fruit. This time, I take it. And I bite into it. I break my front two teeth and wake up with a start. It was an Apple.

      • Burger King

        Yo bro, just so you know, losing teeth in a dream usually symbolizes impotence and dreaming about food usually means sex. Do you feel like your mother is often pressuring you into a relationship of some kind? Like she’s pressuring you to find “the one”? But perhaps you find being in a relationship draining?

        No? Okay cool just some stranger doing some dream analysis cool life I have

      • Annie Streats Streater

        Wow I never realised Dumpster was a brand name! 

    • Gregory Costa

      Dumpster-brand trash bins are top-of-the-line. This is just a Trash-Co waste disposal unit.

      • Nishant

        You were in the dream too?! :O

      • Anonymous


      • Nishant

        You forgot to do the “:O”. It doesn’t feel the same, saying “INCEPTION” if you don’t follow it with the “:O”.

  • Francisca Concha Ramírez

    This totally hit home. Loved it.

  • Angela Joyce

    This is perfect. It’s so true though; if everyone were more honest in regards to the things on this list, we wouldn’t have as many issues with one another. 

  • Joseph Brillantes

    Honesty IS the best policy. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for another brilliant piece! Honesty is terrifying and I’ve made it a practice to not get too close.

  • Emil Caillaux

    “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.”

    I had the same fear – and living far away from my family makes it worse. Today my grandma died – not unexpectedly, but still. Thank you for writing this; it helps put my fear in perspective.

    • Anonymous

      I’m so sorry Emil. Weird timing. :(

      • Emil Caillaux

        Weird, but good.  I’m glad this piece was published today.

  • Jessica DeDeo

    Sad thing, I do stand-up and there has NEVER been restraint to hide anything. I refuse. Even the person who I almost had sex with, I put him on the spot. Though, it was hysterical, it was still honest and not incriminating. :D 

  • Victorious

    Honesty is terrifying. This piece inspired me to write in my journal. I’ve been at it for about an hour now. It’s something I love to do but constantly neglect. It’s probably because it’s the only place where I don’t filter myself in anyway. It’s just me talking to me. I needed a reason to sit down and have a talk with myself. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Colemanc9

    Awesome piece! You might want to check out mebeinghonest[.]com 

  • Anonymous

    Loved this article. Well done, Gaby. I’ll admit that I need to work on my honesty in a big way. I have a habit of telling everyone what they want to hear because I’m overly afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings and as a classically insecure “shy and sensitive” type, I like to be liked. I’m thinking I should speak my mind a bit more. 

  • Red

    recur : verb. to occur again, periodically, or repeatedly: “the symptoms recurred”.

  • Sophia

    Okay, number two, I see you calling me out so hard. I’m definitely guilty of pretending that I don’t have ambitions in the places I do, because, you know, what if I’m not actually good at those things and everyone knows it and will think it’s ridiculous that I think I have any sort of shot at it? Not sure if that made sense, but thanks for this.

  • Michaelwg

    Honesty: Gaby Dunn articles make me smile.

    • Anonymous

      Shucks, boo.

  • Elle

    I don’t need to work on my honesty. All of my passive-aggressive friends need to work on theirs.

  • Snrocinu

    Oh man, I am so guilty of so many of these things… I think the one about not telling someone you like them, for me, is more along the lines of “but, what if I don’t actually like him as much as I thought?” yeah, it has happened to me and it sucked, but I think I’m to paranoid about it happening again.

  • Jana

    I relate to so much of this. Great article!

  • Andrea

    I’ve learned more about you in this article than in any other piece you’ve written. Not saying that’s good or bad, just a fact. 

  • Anonymous

    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.”

    Sorry Gaby, totally judged you there. 

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