The truth can hurt

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I’ve been described as many things over the years — brutally honest, blunt, delicate as a jackhammer — but the question I’ve always asked myself is why does every single one of those phrases have a negative connotation? What’s wrong with being honest? Is it really that hard to share what’s going on in our heads?

Being honest doesn’t necessarily just mean "not lying." According to Psychology Today, being open and honest with people will help strengthen relationships. Being open with the people around you creates a “richer level of intimacy” and a more firm foundation for the relationship — honesty is about expanding communication. Listening openly and sharing one's feelings can build real trust. It can definitely be hard to be open sometimes, but in the end it’s worth it because of the way that it strengthens all of our relationships.

College is a time when you'll find yourself navigating a lot of new social situations, and I think that by prioritizing honesty you'll save yourself a lot of grief and drama. I can easily think of a time when being open and listening would’ve been beneficial to a relationship. A friend of mine had a roommate that she was planning on living with again the following school year; it had been something they'd discussed. But just a week before the housing deadline, my friend was informed that her roommate was considering living with someone else instead. The follow-up conversation never happened, and the two aren't living together anymore. The lapse in communication was a serious hurdle in their relationship. To be fair, better communication could certainly have come from both ends. However, I think that if my friend's roommate had been more open and honest about wanting to switch roommates it would have benefited both parties.

A lack of honesty can also impact a person’s health. The American Psychological Association performed a study on honesty and how it affects both mental and physical health. They determined that the group that was told not to lie reported having less headaches, stress, sore throats, and tense feelings than the control group. Additionally, people in the "no-lie" group reported that their relationships had been stronger since they had been forced to be completely honest and they felt like their communication skills had improved significantly. The conclusion of the study was that by being open about how we feel we can not only improve our relationships, but also our overall health.

To provide the inverse of the above example, there are times when uncomfortable honesty can be the better choice. I once had a friend bail on vacation plans because he didn't want to hang out with a group of only girls. It might not have been the nicest excuse, but I’m grateful for the honesty. The truth definitely sets me free, so that’s what I try to do for other people.

Now of course, I don't think you should go around saying every little thing on your mind, especially if you don't have anything positive to say. However, if someone invites you to do something and you don’t want to, just tell them! If someone is being rude, be straight up and ask them why. If you want to bail on your roommate, tell them as soon as possible so they actually have time to make other arrangements. Is it too much to ask for people to be honest?

As James E. Faust would say “Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living and truth loving.” So sure, the truth can hurt, but who cares? I’ll take the truth over an excuse any day.