By: Alexis Jones, IATG Co-Founder
I always heard the saying, “the truth will set you free” and to be honest, I never fully understood what that meant until recently. You see, I think we actually live in a culture that teaches us that it’s okay to weave in and out of blurry truth lines, especially if it allows us to “save face, to “not hurt anyone feelings” or to “not complicate things.” I’ve certainly been at fault along my career of adopting the "you gotta fake it till you make it" paradigm and have put myself in some pretty precarious situations. Fortunately, I was able to back up my audacious claims, but it would have been really easy to get caught with my hand in the cookie jar. That being said, I was joking with a friend recently saying that it’s as if I were bit by the truth bug and the venom in his little chompers has shut down my entire ability to tell even the most innocuous of white lies.
Image from ratemyink.com
While I could certainly indulge the details of my minor integrity blunders, I’d rather chat about the realization that the saying I had heard as a child is in fact true. There is a freedom when you no longer have to exaggerate, when you are aware when you are gossiping and choose not to, when you speak openly and honestly, sometimes at the expense of the people you love. Because here’s the deal: sometimes the truth does hurt. Sometimes the truth isn’t pretty and it’s scary but even in that space, what a powerful force you become because, believe it or not, speaking truth requires unimaginable courage.
My favorite author right now, Brene Brown, speaks on this issue of vulnerability in many of her books. For so long we have defined courage as the willingness to put our life on the line, whereas she believes that true courage is the willingness to put your vulnerability on the line. In a world where we are taught to aspire to an impossible standard of perfection, she reminds us that our true value lies in our imperfections and the bravery to just be and have that be enough! I struggle with this so much, maybe more than anything else. I have always sought out a big stage and like most of us have learned to value myself through external validation: public awards, impressive resume bullets, and astronomically bright, lime light expectations.
I recently ran into several girlfriends from high school at an event back home and the insecure girl inside me (who sometimes tap dances on my confidence) made an appearance. Past paper tiger fears reared their ugly head and for a moment I remember thinking, “I just want them to like me and be impressed.” Fortunately, this damn truth bug bite and the introspection I have made a career out of, provided me with another option. So I took a deep breath and I chose authenticity over façade, honesty over impressing, and grace over anxiety; and in that space, I experienced the freedom that truth grants all of us.
I’m learning and relearning (when I forget on a daily basis) that I, Alexis Whitney Jones, am enough, and I am not defined by what I do, but what I’m most passionate about sharing is that the same goes for you. I’m learning that it’s okay to not have all the answers, to admit when we mess up, to be honest when we are scared, to ask the hard questions, to take time to really figure things out, and to share the things we’re not proud of just as often as we do our impressive high light reel. While it’s one thing for us to be honest and vulnerable with others, the biggest epiphany I had was that for a long time, I didn’t have the courage to be those things with myself. We invalidate ourselves every time we silence our truth; and she deserves to speak, to be heard, to be shouted from the rooftops. My reminder to you today, is to let your truth reign, let her little wings thrust you to new heights, and her radiance to grant that same permission to others. For what is life without freedom?