Happy National Honesty Day!
Honesty has various definitions — “genuine, real,” “free from fraud or deception,” “marked by integrity,” “direct and uncomplicated,” among others. These definitions are broad and generalized, which makes the meaning of honesty open to interpretation. Additionally, honesty can be applied to a wide variety of situations. Multiple individuals can be in the same position and act in a way they find to be truthful, but perform different actions and get different outcomes. Thus, the most important aspect of honesty is acting in a way that is sincere with one’s own core values and beliefs.
In celebration of National Honesty Day, I was extra mindful of staying true to myself and ensuring my actions were congruent with my beliefs. This challenge was made a little more difficult given that I had a lab practical in my microbiology course. “A test on a Sunday?” you are thinking to yourself. Yes, I promise that I am telling the truth! I signed up for a Saturday-Sunday microbiology course to better accommodate my work schedule. It seemed like a good idea when I registered, but I sure do miss my weekends. I would not have ideally chosen today to take on this “truth test,” but in hindsight, the added challenge is exactly what I needed to push myself to fully reflect on my thoughts and actions.
Here are 6 tips on how to be honest with yourself and how I used those tips to help me throughout the day.
Recognize your weaknesses. Ask for help.
Many people tend to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but rather it is a sign of strength. Weakness is going through life avoiding certain tasks when one is unsure of how to proceed and does not want to admit it to others.
As some of you may know, I am in recovery from anorexia. The stage I am at currently requires I stick to a meal plan as I learn to eat intuitively. Today, I had a difficult time packing my lunch for class so I asked my dad for help. Most days, I am strong enough to do it on my own, but today was not one of them. Admitting to a weakness is never easy, but I am proud of the courage it took to voice my struggles. Thank you to my support system for always being there for me when I need assistance.
Admit to your mistakes.
Mistakes; we all make them. As I am sure you have heard plenty of times in the past, you must learn from your mistakes. While you may not need to shout out to the world every time you mess up, but you do need to acknowledge it to yourself. Do not quickly brush off each slip-up. You cannot learn if you do not allow yourself to accept and reflect on the original mistake.
While studying with some classmates before my exam this morning, I was explaining examples of differential media when another student corrected me. I was taken aback at first but decided to let the student explain her understanding. Turns out she was right! It was not easy, but I thanked her for clarifying and went on to ask her some more questions to ensure my understanding of similar concepts was correct. Being wrong is never fun, but I would not have learned had I not been open to admitting I was incorrect.
Set realistic goals.
When we are young, adults tell us cliché statements like “set your sights high” or “shoot for the stars.” They are right in the sense that we should set high career and life goals for ourselves. However, we cannot take that advice into our day-to-day routine. We must be true to our abilities and time constraints. Each day, be honest with what you can realistically accomplish. This has always been a challenge for me. I love making checklists, but the problem is that I do not stop until they are complete, even when that requires unnecessary sacrifices.
At the beginning of the week, I set a goal for myself to complete my final physiology paper this weekend. While I would be submitting it a week early, I was hoping to get it done ahead of schedule. However, after a crazy week of work and midterm exams, the paper got pushed to the back burner. Today was the day I was hoping to submit it, but I felt drained after I got our of class. Instead, I went to my little sister’s recital and then dinner with my girlfriends. After three exams in three days, I admitted to myself that I did not have the physical energy or mental stamina to keep working. I deserved some fun!
Celebrate your strengths.
Being honest with yourself does not only mean admitting to your limitations and weaknesses. Quite the contrary! Recognizing your abilities and skills is just as important. Don’t be humble. Your skills will take you far.
I love learning, especially science! Today, I was able to celebrate my strengths in the classroom. Even if I didn’t have to demonstrate my skills in front of the others, it is always beneficial to remind myself that I do indeed have strengths!
Express your opinions.
We all have the right to speak our truth, whether that is as simple as where we want to go out for dinner or as deep as our political views. Our opinions are our own and we should not feel the need to hide them.
In this afternoon’s lecture on the microbiology of HIV and AIDS, some ethical dilemmas became the topic of dialogue. I won’t get into the details of the debate (that is an entire blog post in and of itself). However, I was able to speak up and state how I truly felt. The class is full of strangers, but I am entitled to my opinions just as they are entitled to their own. Since we were all able to be open and honest, we had an insightful and enlightening discussion.
Stay true to your feelings.
This tip may be the most challenge of them all. Being honest with how you are truly feeling is not easy. Trust me, I know. I have worked hard for the past couple of years acknowledging my feelings in the moment, especially those crazy times when all emotions are heightened.
I was honest with myself this morning when I became anxious about my exam. Acknowledging the nervousness and apprehension allowed me to recall strategies that have helped in coping with them in the past. Thus, I stepped outside as we were all reviewing at the beginning and took a short walk around campus. Taking a few deep breaths of fresh air was the perfect way to ease my mind.
Now it is your turn. Honesty comes in many forms. Pick one of them and start small. Try tackling one of these tips and making a simple change. Be honest with yourself and watch yourself grow!
Until next time,