A few days ago I found myself in the position of being asked by someone I really want to like me: do I ever want to have children? I believe this someone has an emotional investment in me answering yes since I'm dating her son, and she very much wants grandchildren.
The truth is that I don't want to ever have kids. So how do you think I answered her?
Coincidentally, I finished reading Inferno by Dan Brown last night, and I was irritated by this passage in his book:
"Cruelly, the drugs that had robbed her of her ability to conceive a child had failed to rob her of her animal instincts to do so. For decades, she had battled her cravings to fulfill this impossible desire. Even now, at sixty-one years old, she still felt a pang of hollowness every time she saw a mother and infant."
The wording of that just pisses me off. What instinct?! It's like, since I've never felt any maternal drive, I'm a sea turtle who doesn't bother to go towards the ocean after hatching. Even in a mystery thriller, I can't escape the constant reminders that it's weird for a woman to not want children.
Yes, I'm weird. Thanks for letting me know universe, now please shut up about it already.
Now back to the (most recent) incident when I was asked if I ever want kids. I froze. I wanted to tell the truth, but I also didn't want the lady asking me to think I'm wasting her son's fertility and resources on a relationship with me because we'll never have babies.
I couldn't bring myself to tell her the truth.
Even though I've fully admitted to myself how I feel about this topic. Even though I've previously resolved to answer this exact question with honesty despite my own discomfort. Even though my partner and I agree about not wanting kids!
I ended up dodging the question by saying that I'm just not ready yet, especially since I'm exploring new career ideas and I have no idea where any of that is going.
This incident is just my most recent example of lying to be socially acceptable. I know everyone does it, but I wish I didn't feel so compelled to do so myself.
I greatly admire the idea of radical honesty, the practice of being 100% honest all the time, even about painful or taboo subjects. But in reality, who manages to do that? Almost no one. Strangers who meet for the first time lie an average of three times in the first ten minutes of talking.
Holy crap, being completely honest all the time would be so scary. There's no role model for that kind of behavior in our lives.
You know how many people I would have to say "I don't want to talk to you right now" to? Everyone I speak to most of the time.
Someone will say to me, "Hey, you wanna hang out?"
And if I was really honest, I'd respond with, "No I don't. But I think I should leave the house soon so that I don't become a hermit. And you're bearable enough to be around, so I should also spend some quality time with you. Ya know, so I don't become friendless."
Isn't the truth charming?
I'm more honest lately than I've ever been in the past, not only with others, but with myself. But I still have work to do in this area of my life if I can't be honest in a moment where I want to answer a question truthfully and yet I chicken out because I'm scared I won't be liked.
Personally, I'd always rather know the truth, even if people are afraid it will hurt my feelings. Even if I won't like what I hear. Aren't other people like that too?
Maybe, if I work at it, I can feel free too. That's my goal: be honest enough that I feel free. I can't see how the world wouldn't be a better place if everyone stopped all the lying.