Know When To Shut Up (Or, The Difference Between Honest and Crazy)

Ok. Let me give you some background.

When I was growing up, I loved the idea of transparency. I thought myself transparent on some shallow, sheltered high school level. My goal was to live my life in such a way that I didn’t feel the need to lie about anything because I lived with integrity and had nothing to hide.

A bit idealistic, yeah?

Then, a few years after I’d graduated from high school, disaster struck. Or rather, I struck disaster. Sorta like striking gold. Or striking an STD. That sorta strike. I don’t recommend it. Anyway, I dove head first off the deep end only to smash my brains on the concrete below. It was a combination of bad decisions, wrong relationships and questionable situations – all my fault and all my responsibility to clean up.

But, naive girl that I was, I thought that the best way to take care of my personal PR crisis was to default to transparency.

This (as you’ve already guessed) turned out to be a catastrophe. I blabbed about my bad choices and terrible company constantly. I blogged about it (publicly), I told my side of the story to anyone who would listen and couple of people who wouldn’t, tried to prove that I was yet again the honest girl that everyone thought I was before this all went down.

People told me not to put my blasts out online and in person. I was regularly informed that it made me look bad. (I also had people tell me that it made them look bad.) All I wanted was to start being honest again – the fact that my blatant honesty made me look like a crazy person didn’t even register. Nothing I said was polite, some of it was taken as actual threats. The honesty I was producing was more like the cancer a surgeon discovers: it’s the truth but it’s not nice to look at. Unfortunately, I had turned into the doctor who posted pictures of the surgery all over their Facebook page without the patient’s consent, only to get fired for it later.

Some people can deal with the truth. Others don’t want to.

As I’ve moved away from this travesty that was my life, I’ve realized that the people who don’t want the truth shouldn’t get it. And when you’ve messed up as much as I have, most people just don’t want the truth. They’d like to pretend you’re marginally to severely inadequate so they can keep their insular lives intact, shut out from reality. Those who you would expect to be the most gracious and forgiving are often the ones who will be bringing these failures up over and over again for years. Sometimes, the best policy is to just not talk about it with most people.

And therein lies my point.

When you’re trying to redeem yourself, apologize and be done with it. Don’t keep bringing it up. No one wants to drag the lake for the same body 50 times; it will only look worse as it decomposes.

I still do not have a handle on this. I’m not going to pretend I do. But I am trying to learn it. Unfortunately, my learning will all be too late – I’ve irreparably damaged relationships and people’s opinions of me. That’s a bitter pill to swallow but most likely the fallout would have found some other way to occur.

The hope is to move on and stop rehashing. Again, I’m terrible about this so I’m preaching to myself. But as I do, I hope that I can spare at least a couple of you from experiencing everything I went through. Usually, it’s better to let people think you’re hiding something than to have them think you’re nuts. ;)


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