As time goes on, and I become more and more of an adult, I realize something: People must lie. It pains me to say that and you are all thinking, I don’t lie! But when you really think about it, you lie pretty often throughout the course of the day:
Scenario 1- The Grocery Store
You see an old (cringe worthy) friend while stocking up on your weekly supply of Q-Tips and wine. You are faced with a choice: Do you keep walking and try to avoid eye contact, or do you bs your way through a conversation hidden by a fake smile? Now you know that if you keep walking and try to look the other way, your lack of notification will be the topic of conversation her girls’ night (or she will like snapchat your behind and tell all her friends how big your ass got.) No. You don’t want that. Instead, you stop, share cordialities, she says, “Let’s catch up over drinks!” and you lie, “I’d love that!” Then you walk away thinking about all of the reasons why you are no longer friends with that person and grumble about how she always makes you feel like you’re less than her.
Scenario 2- Home
Your daughter is singing at the top of her lungs, dancing in front of the mirror… thinking she’s a legit rock star. She says, “Mom, I’m singing so good!” Your reply? “Yeah, you are awesome!” as you reach for the nearest headphones to drown out the sound and think, Yikes. You move on until she needs her next dose of false confidence and you wonder when you will have to stop lying to your kid.
Scenario 3- Car
“Mom, if I’m bad will I get coal for Christmas? I heard that’s what Santa does.” How can you not play that one up? “Yeah, this one year I fought so much with Tante Leane that we both got coal. It was a sad year for us.” Seriously, lying to your kids is the key to a healthy development.
Scenario 4- Work
“Gee, Jen, that’s a nice top you have on! And lovely shoes!” as you roll your eyes. I think that lie says it all. We have people we deal with at work that we can’t stand. If anyone says that they don’t have that person(s), they either are lying (again), or have a severely high tolerance for idiots. Anyway. At work. Adults have to lie all the time. We have to pretend we like people when we don’t and we have to tell people that they have nice hair or a pretty dress, just to make conversation. We have to or we look like complete bitches and we get crap gifts for the office secret Santa. So, we play the game and tell people they have nice taste in jewelry, when they don’t.
These are just some very simple scenarios that exemplify how important it is for our culture to cover up reality. We spend so much money, time, and energy on the cover up that we no longer know what’s real. Or worth fighting for. Lying to others is one thing, but lying to ourselves is totally different, and we do so quite often.
We no longer see the value in aging gracefully because we have told ourselves that aging is bad. “It’s totally worth the hundreds of dollars I am about to spend on Botox because I will not get wrinkles!” Rather than telling ourselves that we are getting older and wrinkles come with the package, we try to hold onto false sense of beauty.
We no longer see the value in looking like ourselves. We spend hundreds of dollars on makeup and cover up in order to wear the mask of perfection. We tell ourselves that perfection trumps reality. We find a product to cover our pimples, freckles, and dark rings under our eyes. (I exclude myself from this lie because I’m too lazy to put on makeup. Anyway, I digress.) We spend more money on cosmetics than families in other parts of our country have for food.
We no longer see the value in addressing our problems and trying to solve them. Instead, we lie to ourselves by thinking up excuses and cover ups. We have become over euphemistic and politically correct and cannot even admit to ourselves what we need help with our problems. We cannot say what we think others, either. Instead we need to lie. Lie to our coworkers, friends, family, and selves, just to keep up the act. The lie of adulthood.
There’s no real answer for this. I guess the ‘honesty is the best policy’ lesson we teach our children is paradox of sorts. Should we be preparing them to face this? Or should we be real and honest with them? Should I tell my daughter to not quit her day job and she should pursue a different love than singing? Should I tell her that she can be a 100% total brat and still receive tons of presents for Christmas because there’s no such thing as Santa (and there is no real accountability for her actions)? Do we tell our coworkers that they have an awful sense of style and their stories are annoying? No. We don’t. In the famous words of Dunbar, we wear the mask.