April 12, 2017

The Truth will Stand

When I was in the sixth grade, I transferred to a different elementary school in my hometown because my mom had taken a job there and it made more sense for me to be there too so we could ride to and from school together. It was the 90's and the school guidance counselor still made the rounds to each class on a regular basis to impart wisdom about various topics. Is that still a thing today?

On one particular visit to our class, the guidance counselor started out by asking me to take a slip of paper to the main office down the hall. When I returned to class, there were two straight lines of equal length drawn on the blackboard.

The guidance counselor then asked everyone to weigh in on which line we thought was longer. Several of the kids in the class said the first line was longer. This seemed ludicrous to me because the lines looked exactly the same length, and I said so.

Then a few kids in my class tried to convince me the first line was indeed longer and I was just seeing things wrong.

"The first line is totally longer...can't you see it? Come on, Kate, the first line is the longer one!" 

Apparently this was supposed to be a lesson in peer pressure. While I was gone on the counselor's errand, she primed the class to say the first line was longer even though they were the same.

I guess the counselor didn't realize who she was dealing with....in this case I stubbornly stuck to my guns, knowing both lines were of equal length, and her point wasn't really made.

Have you ever experienced something like this? Stay with me now.

Maybe you went through a particular situation. You were dealt a certain hand in life. And while it might have been less than great, you faced it, tried your best to handle it with as much grace as you could muster, and then you processed it accordingly.

Let's just say for example, you had a flat tire. Maybe you drove over a nail or perhaps the tire just got a slow leak and over time, deflated. But however it happened, you found yourself trying to leave the Dollar General store and couldn't get anywhere because the tire was flat.

Without knowing what caused this issue, let's say you still opted to try and fix it....either by yourself or by asking for a bit of help. And let's say after an hour or so, and a little bit of frustration, you managed the remove the flat and replace it with the spare. All's well that end's well, right?

But what if someone came along and told you that your tire had not been flat at all. That your tire was actually perfect and wonderful all along. That the experience you believe you had was not what really happened. That what you believe to be true is wrong.

It might leave you feeling confused. Kind of like how I felt when all those kids in my class tried to convince me the top line was longer than the other. Maybe even a little crazy. It might cause you to question what you think you know, to question your own ability to discern things.

In the case of the two lines, I remember thinking "Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me. If everyone says the first line is longer, maybe I'm just wrong." 

It's a lot like the story of the emperor's new clothes. Stark naked and walking through the streets, one man (and his wacky new tailor) caused an entire crowd of people to doubt their own ability to see what was right in front of their faces. And only a lone child in the crowd had the courage to speak up and say the truth. He's not wearing anything.

If you've made it this far in this seemingly strange and disjointed post...here's what I hope you take away from it: Your experience belongs to you. It's yours alone. Whatever feels true to you is true. Do not, and I repeat, do not ever allow people to take that away.

It will leave you feeling confused and crazy for sure.

Just because someone else is unable or unwilling to face the truth about a situation, it doesn't mean what you believe you experienced is incorrect.

Maybe someone you love hurt you. That hurt is real. Maybe their actions started a chain reaction of things you are still trying to deal with. Nobody is allowed to invalidate your feelings because it makes them uncomfortable.

I've always believed that a person's story is the most powerful thing he or she has in this world. We should each be permitted to tell that story in a way that feels true and authentic.

But there are people who can't deal with reality. People who need to rewrite history in their minds. It's kind of like the if this, then that principle. If your hurts are real, then maybe I have to finally face my own hurts that I've pushed down for so long. Nah, it's easier just to convince you that you're fine, so I can be fine too.

In the case of the two lines, I knew deep down that I was right. The first one wasn't longer. They were both the same. I couldn't be swayed to change what I knew to be true.

If what you're feeling about a certain situation is contradicted by someone who just can't deal with the reality of it, don't let it get you down. Your truth will stand, even if some people won't stand with you.