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  • Writer's pictureSarah Kuhn

The Life-Lie

I've been reading this book recently that has changed my life, and that's not an understatement. Every single chapter has been so incredible. It's almost mind-blowing, and it makes me want to take action and make some big changes in my life that I've been putting off for a very long time, some changes that I wasn't really even sure that I knew how to make and then others that I didn't even know that I needed to make until I read this book. I've spoken about the book a little bit on social media, and every time I do, there's a fraction of people who are opposed to the author, and so therefore they're opposed to the book without even reading the book or knowing what the book is about.

This has really been a common thing in my life, especially in the last few years. It's so much easier for me to just not tell you about the book, right? It's easier for me to not talk about the author because in telling you about the author, I'm telling you about myself. I'm telling you about my world views. I'm telling you about my political views. I'm telling you about some things about me that some people consider controversial, and so it's easier for me to just not say anything. This type of thing has been a rule in my life for so many years. In so many areas.

Keep the peace

When I was growing up, I was taught that you need to keep the peace. Don't say anything that will upset people. Just let it go and move on or just don't say anything. I was taught that you have to be a different person at Church than you are at school than you are with your family than you are with your friends, like you're, basically a different person for every situation that you're in, and whether that was my parents intention or whether it was just me being super sensitive and taking what they said to an extreme. Because when I was young, I was very literal and if they told me to do something, I would do it. And if they told me not to do something, I would never go near it. So when they said that you act a certain way at Church, I was like, okay, I'm never going to tell people at Church who I really am because I want to be liked and accepted at Church. And so all the friends that I had at Church, they didn't know who I really was. But, I mean, that was the same way for like I said, for school nowadays, for work, every single one of my friends, I know them all from different places. Right. So if you put them all together in a room and ask them questions about me, they would describe different people. And it's not like an intentional manipulation. I thought that's what I thought. But now I'm starting to realize that it kind of is right because I did that intentionally.

And I know what I'm doing going in. And so it's kind of like this thing that I've always known about, right. And I want to attribute part of it to my personality because we, as INFJs were very agreeable. We want people to like us, and we are able to read people very well so we can determine what they want and what they need and what they like and knowing all of that information and wanting people to like us, then it's very easy for us to give them what they want. Right. And so I already had that part of my personality. And then my parents taught me that this is what you do. You just keep the peace and you keep the peace at all costs, even if you have to deny your own truth, even if you have to agree with something that you don't agree with, even if you have to be quiet in the face of something that you would spend your life fighting against, you do what it takes to keep the peace. And when I was young, I just kind of accepted what they said. But as I got older, I started thinking about that more. And I was like, wait a minute. Are you sure this is what you're supposed to do?

When I was in middle school and high school, we started learning about World War II in history. And I got kind of obsessed with the Holocaust because it was just such a horrible thing. Right. And you have to wonder, how did so many people just let it go? How did so many people sit there know what was happening and not do anything? So I had that question, right. And I wanted to say to myself, if I was there, I would have done something. I would have been one of those people who was saving the Jews. I would have been one of those people who was helping. But nowadays, when I look at it from a whole different perspective in the world that we live in now, I wonder, would I really been one of those people? Because in order to be one of those people, you would have had to say something right. You would have had to go against what everybody else was doing. You would have had to go against popular culture and against what your friends thought, and maybe even what your family thought, what the people at Church thought, what the people that you work with thought, would you really have done something different?

So I've struggled with this a lot, especially with the whole keeping the peace aspect, because now that I've grown up and moved out of my parents house and am able to think more for my own, put some distance between what my parents want and think and what I want and think keeping the peace isn't really what I want. I don't want to create conflict just for conflict sake, but I also don't want to run away from conflict in my family. That kind of makes me one of the others, right? Someone who is labeled as misbehaving simply because I don't accept their idea about what you should do or what's acceptable. I've decided that I won't sacrifice my peace in order for there to be peace in our group or in our family.

So I got this book, the one I started telling you about, and there's a chapter in it called Tell the Truth, or at least Don't Lie. And so the author breaks down what it really means if you lie and how it affects you. What I hadn't really thought about, I guess what I had been starting to think about is that I lie consistently, and most people lie consistently, and it's not the type of lies that you think, right? It's not like I just make up stories and tell people these random stories. It's not like that. It's a different type of lie. A lot of people lie for certain reasons, right? They lie like what I said to keep the peace. If you are agreeing with something that you don't agree with, you are lying, right? But they lie for other reasons, too. We lie. I guess I should say we lie for other reasons. We lie because we have a certain ideological belief and we want other people to believe that thing too. Right? Sometimes we lie to prove that we are right. We don't want to lose an argument, so we will lie to prove that we were right, even if we weren't necessarily right, we'll lie to appear competent.

One of the things that I hate the most is people treating me like I'm stupid, and I think it comes from this genuine fear of being not enough, not smart enough. And so at this point, I'm not going to lie. I have lied to appear smarter than what I actually am. I like to bend the truth a little bit. I guess when people ask me about where I went to school. I'll say the University of North Carolina. That's true. I did go to the University of North Carolina. I didn't graduate from the University of North Carolina, and I usually don't specify that I went to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which is a different school from UNC, which is in Chapel Hill, a different part of North Carolina. So the school that I went to was called the University of North Carolina, but technically it's called the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, but they don't specify that. So is that a lie? And a lot of times people ask me what my College degree is. I'll say, Well, I have three College degrees. I actually only have two. Sometimes I'll say, Well, I studied business in criminal justice and mechanical engineering, and it's true when you say it like that. But technically, I have an associate's degree in business management. I have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, and I have three fourths of a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. So I did study mechanical engineering, but I don't actually have a mechanical engineering degree. So it's one of those things. It's like if I want to be smarter, then I'll tell people, well, I studied mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina, and for some reason I used that for years to appear smarter. I try not to do it now because I realized that if people don't think that I'm smart, they're not going to think that I'm smart just because I have some other College degree. Right?

So sometimes we like to avoid responsibility. Sometimes it's because we want to be promoted in our jobs. Sometimes it's to attract attention. Sometimes, like I was talking about before it's to ensure that everyone likes me. Sometimes it's to justify my own world views, whether they are optimistic or cynical. Sometimes it's to rationalize my antisocial outlook. I have a really bad antisocial outlook, and it's easy for me to say that I don't like people and that people don't like me rather than to say I'm anxious to be around people because I don't know how they feel about me. Right. So if you just tell yourself, oh, I don't like people, people don't like me, then that's a whole lot easier than confronting the truth, right? Sometimes we like to minimize immediate conflict. This is what my parents were doing, what they do when they say, Keep the peace, right? You just don't say anything as part of their strategy. Another strategy is like, walk away. So you just avoid conflict at all costs.

Another one is to always appear to be the good child or the sainted one. And another one is to always ensure that it's somebody else's fault, right? The problems in your life are somebody else's fault. My older sister does this. In fact, my younger sister does it, too, and I kind of do it to an extent. But in a different way. My older sister and my younger sister both blame my mom for all of their problems. Everything is my mom's fault, and that's just the be all end. All I realized that I do. I don't necessarily blame my parents. I want to know what happened in my life, right? I want to know the reason for why I think the way that I do and the reason that I feel the way that I do. And in order to do that, you have to be honest and say, Well, listen, you know, everything that you learn comes from your parents up to a certain point. And so obviously mistakes were made. But that happens in every family. So I want to understand I don't necessarily want to blame. It's not a be all end all for me. It's what happened. So I know what's broken so I can fix it. And unlike both of my sisters, I actually have a pretty good relationship with my parents. So I know that they did the best that they could with what they had. And I don't want to blame them for what happened. I just want to understand what happened and to be able to fix it and to move past it.

So all these things that we just talked about, they're called life lies, right? It is attempting to manipulate reality with perception, thought and action so that only some narrowly desired and predefined outcome is allowed to exist. So you've already decided what your viewpoint is right. And you want to change how you think about things in order to get to that point, right? You've already decided that your parents are to blame for everything that's wrong in your life, and you're going to change how you think about things. You're going to change how you act to make sure that they are to blame.

It's really sad, honestly. And you see it a lot nowadays, not just with that one example, but to make sure that you're avoiding conflict examples in my life, that it's like another one that's really big for me is I'm the good child. I will always be the good child. I'm the responsible one who does all of the right things. And so because you've already decided that then you're willing to manipulate reality in order to fit that predefined outcome. So if you're living your life with one of these life lies, whether it's consciously or unconsciously. So whether you're doing it knowingly or it's just something that you've always done. And so it's kind of an unconscious thing. You are assuming that two things are true, that the current knowledge that you have is sufficient to define what is good unquestioningly far into the future. So you're saying that what you know right now is all that you'll ever need to know, right. And then the second thing is that reality would be unbearable if left to its own devices. So if you just stopped trying to manipulate reality, if you stopped believing this thing that you believe. Then it would be completely unbearable to deal with the unknown.

This is one of the things that really hit me. All I know is all that needs to be known. When I was young, I thought that I'm not going to lie. I thought that I know everything there is to know. Don't question me, believe me. I know this really hit me. It's really been hitting me really hard the last couple of years because my niece blessed her heart. I love her to death, but she turned 18. Well, last year now in 2021, and she definitely has that attitude. I know everything. There is snow. I don't need your advice. I don't need your opinion. I already know everything, and that's all there is. And I hadn't really thought of myself that way until I've been going through this with her. And then I started thinking back to some of the things that I have done and how young I was when I did some of those things and how I would be a lot more cautious now. And I thought I've kind of been having this epiphany over the last three or four years now that my parents are a lot smarter than I've ever given them credit for. I think that's something that a lot of people go through because the older you get, the more that you realize that you don't know as much as you thought that you did. And I think it's not only something that happens with maturity, but it also happens with this awareness that you don't have all the answers. You don't know everything that there is to know. There's another thing that the author talked about in this book that I thought was really, really interesting.

There's actually a part of your brain that's activated and grows when you face conflict. So if you never face conflict, you're literally keeping your brain from growing. If you never face the unknown, if you never admit that you don't know everything that there is to know and take some challenges, take some chances if you never challenge yourself. If you always just stay where you've always stayed and trust what you've always known, then you're literally keeping your brain from growing. There are so many examples of life lies and then also lies that we tell ourselves just to get by things that we don't really even think about as lies. One of the big ones is when people deny that their loved ones are dying.

My mom is a Hospice nurse and she has been for more than 20 years now, and she always tells the stories about her patients, never anything that's identifying because I know that that's against the law, but she'll tell us about their condition and their family and how people deal with dying loved ones. It's interesting to me that some people actually wait to die until their family can get there, which I never thought about dying as being something that's in your control. And I don't know if it's conscious or unconscious that it happens a lot, that if their family isn't there with them. And there's a process that people go through that's called actively dying. And there are certain steps that most people go through when they're dying of either natural causes or an illness that's predictable, like cancer. A lot of people die from cancer, but there's a process that people go through of actively dying. And when they're in that process, and, you know, for some people, it lasts longer than for others.

But it's kind of predictable. And some people, when they get into that process, the nurses will call their parents or will call their family their kids usually and say, it's time for you to be here. If you're not here yet. And some people will literally wait to die until their family gets there. But a lot of times you have family members that are there. And when somebody gets put on Hospice, they typically have less than six months to live. Right? That's what qualifies you for Hospice, that your health is declining in a way that more or less you're going to die within six months. A lot of times people avoid calling Hospice because they're in denial that their family member is dying. Even if they know their family member has a terminal illness, they know that their family member has cancer, especially if it's an aggressive type of cancer or if their family member is young, if it's a sister or a brother or a son or daughter and they're younger than what normal people die. People deny that they're actually dying. And so sometimes Hospice doesn't get called until it's very late in the process.

And the family, even when the people are actively dying, like they're going to die within the next 24 hours, the family is denying that that's going to happen. That's actually a form of lying because it is delaying the acceptance of the inevitable, right? You can't keep people from dying, right? And some people even go to lengths where, you know, when people are being treated for cancer, a lot of them go through radiation and chemotherapy, and it's very hard on people. It can make people incredibly sick before they get better. Right. So if you have a form of cancer that chemotherapy isn't really helping or you can tell that the person is going to pass away from the chemotherapy. Some people will keep going down that road thinking that they're going to get better rather than saying, okay, this is too much like this isn't going to work. We should stop and just let them die in peace. It's a really sad situation, really for everybody involved, because you can't stop what's happening, right? And eventually their loved one dies, and then they have to deal with that. And it's even worse dealing with it because some people deny it to the point where they never get to say goodbye.

They could know, but they refused to

There was another sentence in the book that hit me really hard. It said they could know, but they refused to. I started thinking about how many things that I'm denying in my life. At this point, I'm not dying or I don't think that I am, thankfully. But I know that at some point I will die and I am getting a lot older. You know, when you're young, you think that you're never going to get old. And then as you get older, your view of young seems to get older and older. And there are things every single day that you deny are happening.

And so things like, hey, I'm 36 now. I thought I was going to have kids, and it's like, oh, wow. I guess there is a limit to the amount of time that I can have kids. And I want to get married first. Right. So I understand that I can have kids without being married. I understand that I don't even need a husband. Like, I don't even need a guy. I can just go to a clinic, but I don't just want kids. I want a family. And since Cobid, well, even before Cobid, if I'm really being honest here, I don't really go out. I don't drink. I don't think I've ever been to a real bar in my whole entire life. I've been to restaurants that have bars, but never just like, a straight bar. I don't go where other people are. I've never been to, like, single groups or, you know, speed dating or anything like that. I wouldn't go to any of those things. And especially in the last couple of years, we're moving into three years now. It's like I have this great excuse to stay home. And I realized that if I'm not on any of the dating apps and I don't go anywhere except for the grocery store and Target and TJ Maxx every once in a while, you don't really need a lot of guys in there and certainly not single guys. It's like if I only stay inside of my apartment all day long, every single day, how am I going to meet somebody like, do I literally think that some guy is just going to show up at my door and be like, hey, I'm the person you're supposed to spend the rest of your life with.

I always thought that I would meet somebody just randomly. You know, a lot of my friends have these great stories. My mom has this great story of how she met my dad. She was a server in a restaurant, and there was somebody who came into the restaurant that was driving this really nice car. And so she made a bet with her friends to see who would get a date with the guy who was driving this car. And it turned out to be my dad. So, I mean, I always thought that I would have one of those stories, like, you just meet somebody in line at Starbucks or something. But I started paying attention a little bit, right? And I don't talk to people at Starbucks, like, very rare. Do I ever talk to people? Even if I have to stand there? Some days, you have to stand there for, like, 30 minutes to get your coffee. But usually on those days, everybody is standing there for 30 minutes, and they're really unhappy. So that is not the time that I want to be talking to people.

But anyway, I've come to this realization of, like, okay, this whole idea that you're just randomly going to meet somebody. Maybe you're lying to yourself, like, maybe you actually need to go do something in order for this to happen. And maybe you need to kind of do it quick, like, not panic, but actually start taking some action, because what you've been doing isn't working, right? So that's where my mind went when I read that sentence.

Hiding from the potential

They could know, but they refused to. And I was like, yeah, there's a lot of things in my life that are like that I could know, but I don't want to know. So I go back to keeping the peace, right? How I talked about my parents are all about keep the peace. And I've realized that I don't really agree with their logic there. But there are a lot of things that it's just easier to keep the peace, right? I'm agreeable because it's easy. A lot of times it feels like the best thing to do. But hiding from conflict and from others. Also, it means pushing down your personality and hiding from the potentials of what you could be of what the author calls unrealized self. I thought that was a big thing, too, because I love learning about my personality because I feel like it helps me to understand who I am. It helps me to see who I am, and that's been something that's really difficult for me. I can look at other people, and I can see exactly who they are. And I can point out every single one of the things that they're doing wrong. But it's a lot more difficult for me to do that for myself.

And one of the things that I love to think about, too, is the future, the potential of what I could be. So if the fact that I'm hiding from conflict now is detrimental to my future self, why am I doing it? So then the next part is even more important, which is if you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself. You know how I was talking earlier about how my friends don't really know me. They all know, like a different version of me. I'm really scared to share with all of my friends, the real me. I know that in the past I've tried, I've gotten really brave, and I've said, okay, this is ridiculous. It's totally ridiculous that I can't just say all of the things that I want to say. It feels like I'm constantly trying to shove myself in this box, and it doesn't really fit. And it's just terrible. So, like, I'm just going to be me.

But then what happens is people aren't really interested in me being me. And in the past, I've just felt rejected and thought that's completely horrible. Like, all these people talk about acceptance. They're not really interested in giving people acceptance. So it's easy to blame other people, right? And say, who are they to reject me? Like, what's wrong with them when in reality the problem lies in myself because I lied to them to begin with. And then when I tell them the truth, they're not interested in the truth. They're more interested in the fact that I lied to them and that I deceived to them. Right? When you tell somebody that you're not when you tell somebody something that you're not, it's kind of like you're agreeing to a contract, right?

I've illustrated this in the past multiple times with the story about my landlord, a previous landlord that I had. I told her that I was very nice and agreeable and kind. I showed her that with my actions, right? Every time she bothered me, every time she broke the law, literally, she came into my apartment unannounced. She would clean my apartment. She moved my things, she opened my mail every time she did this kind of stuff. I didn't push back because I wanted to avoid the conflict. So I was nice to her and friendly to her. I was agreeable to her. That's what I showed her, right. Even though I was feeling anger, even though I was mad as hell, I didn't tell her that. So by my actions, I implied that everything that she said and did was okay. And then finally, when it got to the point of like, okay, I'm not going to take this anymore. Then I, like, flipped a switch in my personality, and I was like, showing her that I was mad as hell and telling her, and it was not acceptable. And so I became, like, a whole different person in a matter of seconds. And I didn't realize what was going on at the time.

But I was telling one of my friends about it, and she was like, Sarah, this is your fault. And I'm like, what the lady had sent me, these text messages that were like, you are not the person that I thought you were. And what's wrong with you. And I can't believe that you're acting this way. And I took that personally. Like, oh, now you're going to insult my personality, really? And so I'm telling my friends and my friend is like, Sarah, this is totally your fault. And I'm like, what, how in the world can you be on her side? Like, what is wrong with you? And she's like, Hello, you told this lady that you were nice and kind, and you agreed with everything that she did to her face. Of course, you're not the person that she thinks that you are. You never told her that you were a different person. You never told her that you didn't agree with what she did. And I was like, oh, you're right. I didn't. So from that perspective, it was like we had agreed on a social contract, right? I was nice. She was nosy. We were both nice to each other spaces, but she was one of those totally in your business type of people. And I had never said that was not okay until it literally blew up.

So then I started thinking about all of the friends that I've had. We agreed to a social contract. I was a certain way. I was a certain way at Church. So of course, they were confused when I changed the contract when I said, oh, hey, I'm actually not that person. I'm totally different. Of course, they were confused. Of course, they were like, Well, what's wrong with you? That's not what I agreed to. It made a whole lot more sense, and it makes even more sense.

Now, after reading this book last year, I started diving into doing this moral inventory because I feel like it's something that's necessary, even for me. Now it's even more necessary. I bought this book that helps you go through a series of questions to really do this inventory. And I bought the book, and I literally put it on my couch and stared at it for a couple of weeks, because even though I wanted to do it, I was scared at the same time. I didn't really know if I wanted to know the truth because I knew that there were some things like this situation with my landlord. I know there are some things that I'm lying to myself about, and it's kind of like, Well, I'm comfortable with a lie. I don't know how much those lies hurt me, but I don't know that I want to figure it out if I want an answer. I really thought that I was doing the right thing for the longest time. And now it's like, I know that I'm not, and it's really difficult to change. It's like, if you tell yourself the truth, then you have to deal with all the hurt and the pain, and you have to see what you've done to yourself. There's nobody else to blame, right? I felt like I was protecting myself based on the information that I had at the time.

I put all my faith in the information that I had

But like, we were talking about before, what I didn't realize was that I put all my faith in the information that I had, and I failed to realize that there might be more than what I already knew. When you start analyzing your own behavior, your own thoughts, and you start thinking about, why do I think this way you start digging into sometimes it can be really. It gets worse before it gets better. Kind of like when you clean out your closet, your closet is a mess and you're like, okay, let me organize this. Maybe you even buy some storage boxes, you buy some new hangers, maybe you find some wall-mounted hangers for scarves and things.

So you're like, okay, I'm going to clean everything up. Maybe I'm going to get rid of some of the stuff that I don't need. There's a lot of stuff in here. I don't need to. We have to take everything out of the closet before you can organize it, right? Sometimes it turns into this massive mess that engulfs your whole room and you're like, what am I doing? I didn't realize this was going to be a three-day-long project. I thought it was going to be an hour, and it got massively worse before it got better. It's the same situation when you're talking about analyzing your own thoughts and your own behavior. Sometimes you have to make a huge mess before it actually starts getting better.

A lot of times, even when we have new information, it's difficult to adapt our thinking to that new information, right? Every single one of us sees our life through a specific lens, whatever your belief system is. And sometimes that comes from where you grew up. Sometimes it comes from your family or your religion. Sometimes it comes from other ideological belief systems that you have. But you see things based on that specific system.

A good example of this is I was raised in a very conservative religion, and I was also raised in the Midwest. And a lot of people in the Midwest are very conservative. Most people go to Church and you know this because if you really want something from the store, the best time to go is like, 10:00 on Sunday morning, there's nobody in the store. But if you go around noon or 1230, it'll be packed because everybody goes to Church on Sunday morning and Church gets out at, like, at noon. So after that, the stores fill up. When I moved to Boston, it was completely different. Most people in Boston, I would say, don't go to Church. And I know that because I go to the store on Sunday morning at 10:00 thinking that there's going to be nobody there. And it's the same. Everybody's there. There aren't nearly as many churches.

When you drive around you, there aren't nearly as many churches. And some of the churches have actually been converted into apartments, which is kind of shocking for me, because the way that I was raised about Church is like, you don't use the Church for anything else. But I mean, when you have a Church that nobody uses anymore, what do you do with it? And there are a lot of churches that are used for other things. So you see that people don't go to Church. And so there's a different ideology. There's a different belief system here. There's a different way that people live their lives here. And I'm not saying that it's wrong or right. That one way is wrong or right. It's just different. It's a different way of viewing the world.

We think we have all the answers

So what's the answer? Right? That's always the important thing, right? The problem is that we think we know we've talked about that. We think we have all the answers. And this leads us to believe that nothing important remains unknown, that we can't really learn anything more, whatever world view that you have, that's all that there is. And there's nothing more to learn. Most people choose this. It's easy to choose this. It's easy to say. I have everything that I need. I don't want to know anything more. I don't want to talk to people that I disagree with. I don't want to hear other people's ideas and opinions. I don't want to read any more books. I just want to know what I know.

My dad told me a few years ago I was going on a cruise. I was living in Missouri, and I was flying to New Orleans, and the cruise was leaving out of New Orleans. Going to Cancun. No, Cozumel was going to Cozumel, which is in Mexico. And so my dad was taking me to the airport, and he was like, I just want you to know, I think you're crazy for doing this. And I'm like, Why? For going to New Orleans? And he's like, yeah, you've never been to New Orleans. It's a big city. It could be very dangerous. I can't believe that you're doing that. And I can't believe that you're going on a cruise. You're getting on this massive boat. All you hear about is boats that have issues, and you're going to Mexico, which is a foreign country and you never know what could happen there. And I'm like, Well, I can't believe. And he said, too, he was like, I would never do something like that. In fact, I don't want to go anywhere that I've never been before.

And I'm like, I'm in shock, like, I can't believe that you don't want to go. You've never been to New Orleans. Maybe it's dangerous. Maybe it's fun. Maybe there are some parts that are dangerous and some parts that are fun. That's probably true of everywhere you go, of course, you're going to hear about boats that sink because it's rare, not because it's common. You hear about planes that crash, not because it's common, but because it's rare. And obviously, it's tragic when people die. A lot of times when cruise ships crash or crash into something or turn over. A lot of times, people don't die because they have time to get off the boat. And there are smaller boats. There are preparations that you can make. I'm like, I think it's crazy that you don't want to go. I can't believe you don't want to go to another country. Of course, all of this was, like, pre-covid. Right. So we weren't thinking about a virus that could potentially kill us. My dad was thinking about all the other things that could happen.

But my thought process was, I can't believe you don't want to go. I want to go. I want to explore the unknown. I want to go places that I've never been before. I don't know that I want to go on vacation, somewhere that I have been before. I just want to go somewhere new every single time. And my dad was like, that's horrible. I don't ever want to do that.

Home sounds like hell

I was watching this TV show that I think is really awesome. I've been watching Yellowstone, and I just absolutely love it. I don't know why I haven't noticed there for three years. But I've been watching the spin off, which is called 1883. And it's about these people in the year 1883. They are going down the Oregon Trail, I guess, from Texas. I think they're currently in Texas. And the episode that I just watched, they were making preparations to cross a river with covered wagons and horses and cows. And most of the people in their group don't speak English. They are like, you think a lot of them are German, and because they don't speak English. And there's only one guy that can translate for them. And they're from a country that's totally different from where they're at right now. And they've never done the type of things that they're doing now. A lot of them don't even know how to ride horses.

And so one of them was talking about or they're talking about how to get across the river. Right. And so the leader of their group who's, like, this rugged old American dude, his job is to take people down the Oregon Trail, which was like, from Texas. Well, where they're going is from Texas all the way up to Oregon. And you basically have to walk or ride a horse or ride in a covered wagon. Right. And so they're talking about getting across this river. And the old guy is talking to the one foreign guy who speaks English, and he's like, well, some people might have to swim across the river. And the guy's like, we don't know how to swim. And the old guy is like, how do you not know how to swim? And the foreign guy goes, Well, it's illegal to swim where we come from. They put people in the water after they die. For some reason, they get them wet before they bury them. Or maybe they were burying them at sea. I didn't really understand that part. But he was like, basically, the water, you don't go in the water. So it's illegal for us to swim.

And so they were going back and forth a little bit more. And then later, the old guy was talking to this other guy who's, like, his partner. They both take people along the trail. And the other guy says, Their home sounds like hell. And the old guy says, It's a hell. They know. The most terrifying thing on the planet is the unknown. They were talking about how they were shocked and surprised that the foreign people were still there. The old guy was like, I can't believe they didn't go back home. I can't believe that they're not going back home right now, you know? And then the other guy says, Well, home sounds like hell. And the old guy says, Well, it's a hell they know. And the most terrifying thing on the planet is the unknown. I can't even imagine.

Honestly, I've thought about the pioneers, I guess, quite a bit because you learn about them in school and especially now living around Boston. Things are so much older here than what they were in the Midwest, where I grew up in the Midwest. It was unusual to find a house that was 100 years old right here in Boston. It is extremely common to find a house that's 100 years old. It's not unusual to find a house that's 200 or even 300 years old.

Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, MA
Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, MA

When my mom came to visit me, I had my wisdom teeth out in April of last year. And when she came to visit me, we were driving around. And there's a sign every time you enter a new town a lot of times because they just run into another one to the next one. And so she was looking at the signs and she's like, Why is there a number underneath the sign? Because I think there's a sign that says Braintree.

And I think it says, like, 1640 or something like that. And she's like, there's a lot more than 1600 people who live here, basically. And I'm like, That's not the number of people who live here. That's not the population. That's the year that it was founded. And she's like, what it was founded in 1640? And I'm like, yeah, Plymouth is here, which is the famous story of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. That is the Plymouth that we actually drove through Plymouth. And I showed her the rock, the Plymouth Rock. And it's kind of disappointing because this is very small rock, and it has this huge thing around it. This isn't really what I pictured when I thought about Plymouth Rock.

But it's really interesting when you think about how there were people here that long ago and then what they had to go through. I had never thought about the fact that most people didn't speak English when they came here until I started watching this show, this 1883 show, I can't imagine how difficult it was to ride across the country in a covered wagon. I've done a lot of road trips in a car with air conditioning and plenty of food to eat and music. Sometimes movies, but I can't imagine how difficult it is or how difficult it was to go across the country and not be able to understand what was happening, not be able to understand that you have to swim across this river and the tragic part about the show. And if you are watching the show and you haven't watched this episode yet, then spoiler alert. This show is like every single episode. There are multiple people who die because I'm sure that's what happened back then.

But the worst part about this episode is like all of the people who spoke English were standing around talking about this is how we're getting across the river, and this is how we're going to help people get across the river and all these things. And I think it was the old guy who's, like, the most important thing is that people stay calm, because even if you don't know how to swim, as long as you stay calm, we can help everybody. But if you start to panic, that's when people drown and they're telling people, if somebody starts to panic, you need to let go of them, because what's going to happen is they're going to pull you under with them and they're going to drown and they're going to make you drowned, too.

And it was really tragic in the episode because there was a lady who was like panicking, and there was this other lady who was trying to help her, and eventually, she had to let go of her and she had to push her away because she was drowning and she was pulling the other lady under with her. And it was just like horrifying to think that people had to drown because they didn't understand that they didn't have to. There was no way of communicating with them. It was really terrible. And I think this show just provides this whole new level of realization, and it makes me have a lot more respect for some of my ancestors. Some of them came to the United States during that time. Some of them came a little bit later. But most of my family or the people that I've been related to have been they came to the United States, like four or five generations ago. And so it would have been within the timeframe that they were here. And a lot of my ancestors came from, like, Germany and Norway and Russia, and I don't know if they spoke English or not, but it must have been really, really difficult for them.

Facing the unknown

So when you're talking about facing the unknown, it's a really, really scary thing to do. Trying to avoid conflict for me has been like a way of life. And I realized that it's not just because I want to keep the peace. It's because I don't know what the other person's reaction is going to be. And rather than risk it, I'm scared to find out what their reaction will be. But the thing about it is if you never push back, you'll never be able to push back. I'm sure that if you haven't been in this type of situation, you know somebody who has been there's a lot of abuse nowadays, whether it's verbal abuse or physical abuse. I'm sure if you haven't been in this situation, you probably know somebody or at least have heard of somebody who has been. I have. I was in a relationship one time where the guy was definitely verbally abusive. And I think if I would have been around him for too long, he would have been physically abusive. He pushed me one time in a way that was alarming to me because nobody had ever done anything like that to me before, and it scared me half to death.

One of my good friends has been in multiple abusive relationships, too. And the thing about this, just like with my landlord, the story that I was telling you earlier, if someone is mean to you and you don't push back, you're implying to them that their behavior is acceptable, right? You're telling them that what they're doing through your actions. You're telling them it's totally fine to do that because my landlord opened my mail and I didn't say, hey, that's a problem. Please don't do that. She thought it was okay because she walked into my apartment at 10:30 at night without any prior notice, which is illegal because I didn't say anything to her. She thought it was okay.

So how far does it go?

How far do you let it go? Well, it's kind of up to you. And whether you're talking about your landlord, whether you're talking about your friends or your family members saying things to you that you don't like. My older sister used to say things to me a lot that I didn't like, but I never said anything to her. I never pushed back. The thing is that it's up to you, right? It's called implied consent. You're telling them it's okay because you're not telling them that it's not okay.

It's not popular to say this nowadays, right? Because people will label it victim blaming. But to me, it's not victim blaming. It's called responsibility, right? You have a responsibility for your life. You have to take responsibility because no one is coming to save you. So if somebody is treating you in a way that you feel like is unacceptable, you have to tell them. You have to be able to stand up and say, no, I'm not going to take that anymore. Whether it's your sister, your brother, your mom or your dad, your grandparents, your friends, your employers, whoever it is, you have to be able to say, no, this isn't going to work. This is not okay.

There are a lot of ways nowadays that it's like that I've had friends that I've had to say, no, this doesn't work. Both of my sisters have been like that, too. You can't treat me like this. That does not okay. It's not going to work. I've had employers that I had to walk away from because I realized that I deserved better than that, and I wasn't going to take it anymore. That boyfriend that I had, I walked away from him after he pushed me because I was like, I don't want to live like that. It's not okay.

One of my neighbors now is constantly fighting with her boyfriend, and it's like every single day they're fighting with each other and screaming and yelling and the whole bit. And I just rack my brain every time because I'm like, I hate living in apartment because it's so noisy and there's nothing I can do. I'm not going to go stop their fight. I don't feel like that's my job to get in the middle of their mess. But I realized that she's choosing it. She could get away from him. She could do something different, but she doesn't. She stays there and fights with him. And I don't understand why. I don't understand why my friend also stayed with her boyfriend who wasn't nice to her. I don't get it because for me, I would rather be happy. I would rather face the unknown. And to me, there is the hope of happiness in the unknown.

The devil you know

So rather than staying where I am with what I know, I would rather face the unknown. There's this thing that says the devil you know beats the devil. You don't. I don't really agree with that. I would rather take the chance of learning something new. I would rather move on to something else because it's the hope. It's the hope of something better that carries me through.

So the answer to the life-lie that we started talking about. The answer is to be willing to learn from what you don't know. And the only way to do that is to tell the truth. And the sooner that you tell the truth, the better off you'll be before you can tell the truth to other people, you have to tell the truth to yourself. And that is the hardest thing that you'll ever do in your life. It's incredibly difficult to look at yourself and say, I've put myself in the situation, and it's happened over a long period of time. And now I have to figure out how to stop.

I wanted to leave you with a quote from the book, which is one of my favorites. It says, “you are by no means only what you already know. You are also all that which you could know. If you only would. Thus you should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are. You should never give up the better that resides within you for the security you already have. And certainly not when you have already caught a glimpse, an undeniable glimpse of something beyond.”

And just in case you're wondering and you want to read the book. I absolutely think that you should. Everything that I told you is about chapter eight in this book, and chapter eight again is called Tell the Truth, or at Least Don't Lie. And the book is by Jordan Peterson. It's called Twelve Rules for Life. And honestly, it is legitimately, the best book that I've ever read. And I think the things that I've learned in this book and I'm only on I've just finished reading chapter eight. They've definitely changed my life. They've changed the way that I think about a lot of things and the path that I'm on in my life for sure. So I hope that you'll read it.

And I hope that you will take a look at some of the lies that you've been telling yourself and start to embrace the truth, even if it's incredibly difficult, because there's hope. There's a lot of hope there. And there's a lot of potential there. And I honestly have to believe that the future is better than whatever is happening right now, especially over the last couple of years. There's always hope where there's life, there's hope it's going to get better. It has to. It absolutely has to.

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