Even If It Hurts, Give It To Me
As a child, I was a most voracious reader. I grew up in an era where Enid Blyton fairy tales and Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys mysteries were the rave among my peers. I often found escape in the fascinating world of make-belief created by Blyton, where with the wave of a magic wand, life was made perfect. In the aforementioned mysteries, my curiosity was stimulated along the passage with the young sleuths. I would always piece together clues to try to figure out, “whodunit” before the plot was fully revealed. But the stories that captivated me most were non-fiction. I had a special love for history and committing to memory key facts, figures, dates, events and people who shaped the world in which I was growing up. At the elementary level, the education system in Barbados was designed to teach us historical facts not just about our country, but also about the wider Caribbean and the world. I was therefore challenged to have a “general knowledge” of such things.
Barbados also had in place a national book-lending scheme where mobile libraries traveled bi-weekly to our primary schools and it was mandatory for us children to borrow and read books. This effort further fed my knowledge of history, as did other texts required for class and books my mother bought me. My interest in factual events spurred on a passion for the news of the day and from a young age, I started paying attention to what was reported in the media. The stories that had the greatest impact on me were the human-interest pieces; portraits of people and the way writers allowed me to experience their lifestyles, to evoke emotion and even action. For these reasons and more, I too wanted to tell stories of people, to present real truths; realities that resonated with readers, issues that enlighten others and compelled them to help effect positive change where possible.
Mine was not the goal to tell fiction. I wanted through my writing to take readers on real journeys. So be it this aspiration and or a solid Christian upbringing, where I took to heart the message of honesty, candor became my middle name and questioning almost everything became my game. This made for a very outspoken and opinionated student throughout every academic level, a meticulous and prepared reporter, and a fearless friend who always opted to tell her pals “unpleasant truths over comforting lies.” This characteristic is so inherently me, that it’s among the first things people become familiar with, as they get to know me. They either hate me or they love me for it. There’s hardly ever a medium. But it’s a part of me for which I make no apology.
I make no apology for speaking the truth because it’s what I demand of people, even if it hurts. Sure, there are times it hurts to the core. Occasionally, it’s obvious to see that I’m hurt. More often than not, I quietly internalize that particular truth and decide how best to positively act on it. However it plays out, I am always grateful for the truth. Like many people I know, I’ve been terribly scarred by lies told to me and often by someone I loved and respected. It has heightened my intolerance for BS and as much as I hate to admit, it has left me with trust issues. So when people appear to be less than transparent with me, I cut ties without hesitation.
In this era, where social media saturates our lives, many people are able to present a façade online. One can have the funniest tweet, the most cheerful Facebook status update, gorgeous Instagram or Pinterest photo, fun-filled Tumblr, or thought-provoking Google+ and LinkedIn posts screaming to the world that they’re doing “A-OK.” But in fact, they’re utterly depressed. Some folks even hide behind their blogs, concealing their real identities to voice controversial or other provocative opinions. Or consider online dating; many people post only headshots, while their profile states “athletic and toned” and in reality their size – nowhere proportionate to their height – puts the scale under pressure. We’re living in a world of smoke screens and veneers, with an ever-increasing number of ways for people to camouflage the truth to try to make themselves and others feel “good.”
My failure to join this bandwagon of online “illusionists” has resulted in losing a few friends. Or as my friend Katrina cited on Facebook: “You keep weeding out all the fake friends.” You see, I can’t help but call a spade a spade. So when I recently lauded the performance of Caribbean athletes at the Olympics in, “Proud of Our Caribbean Athletes: Deal Wid It,” it angered a few people who not only unfriended me on Facebook, but unfollowed me on Twitter. Subsequently, I was called “illiterate” by a “friend” on Facebook because I wrote in Bajan dialect when addressing my Barbadian friends. When I candidly defended the use of my “Bajanisms,” he too unfriended me. And then there’s the guy that got mad because I said that when Nicki Minaj appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” she could have given a more comprehensive response when asked about Trinidad, the place where she was born. This “friend” argued with me that people who left their country at a young age shouldn’t be expected to know anything about it/their culture. I frankly told him that everyone should know or seek to find out about the country in which they were born, particularly with so much information available nowadays. Of course, my opinion got me unfriended.
While it’s never my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings or launch personal attacks, I will always speak my mind. I can’t mask the truth just because someone doesn’t like it. If on an occasion, I overstep a boundary, I am woman enough to apologize and make amends. I want my stories, my word to echo an honest voice. The truth isn’t designed to make anyone feel good. The truth is the truth and more people ought to learn to deal with it. What do you think?
~ I Keep it Irie ~