5 Reasons Lying Sometimes Seems Like the Best Option: A Response

It seems like I’ve been responding to a lot of Cracked.com articles lately, but I couldn’t resist a response to 5 Reasons Lying Sometimes Seems Like the Best Option, written by one of my favorite Cracked writers, John Cheese. Though I love Cracked in general, Cheese is one of the only writers that I almost always agree with on pretty much everything. When reading this particular article of his, I found a million stories running through my head that agree with his every point, and so, here we go again. Make sure to check out the original article!

"No, I'm not angry with you. Whatever would make you think that I was angry with you?"
“No, I’m not angry with you. Whatever would make you think that I was angry with you?”

#5. It’s Met With Hostility

This first reason shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise to anyone. Cheese gives the example of a husband or wife bottling up lots of little frustrations (because who wants to rock that boat?) until eventually they can’t take it anymore and snap the truth out like a whip…and of course, the spouse flips the hell out because they never saw this coming and now see it as their loved one being a complete jackass for no good reason. Though it may not have been a spouse, specifically, everyone has experienced the second part of this situation. You tell someone the truth and they absolutely lose their mind. The next time you seriously consider keeping your mouth shut because who needs that nonsense?

Just try and tell me you’ve never experienced this reaction, whether you were the one doling out the truth, or doling out the hostility.

In the best example I can think of for this particular entry, I’m the jackass, though of course I didn’t think so at the time. Last Halloween I got it in my head that my daughter was going to be a My Little Pony for Trick-or-Treat. I found a pattern online for what was basically a jogging suit with ears on the hood, and a tail and “cutie-mark” on the pants. I got some material and set to work. It was an awful pain in the ass right from the get-go, since the material I got refused to move through my mother’s sewing machine without bunching and getting caught up, so I had to do all the sewing by hand. I also kinda sketched the pattern out by hand because I don’t have a printer so I couldn’t print out the pattern from the website. So bit by bit I slaved to sew this thing together, and the more together it came, the more obvious it was that it wasn’t going to look right at all. I’m not stupid. I could see that it wasn’t turning out. But when my husband decided to point out one day that it just looked awful and that maybe I should try something else instead, he came within an inch of death. I knew that the damn thing was coming out a total piece of junk, but to hear him put it in words enraged me like I can’t explain. I didn’t actually end up losing my mind, but believe me when I say that it took all my willpower not to punch him in the nose. Later I felt like a total dork for getting so upset about something that I had already figured out myself, but at least I had a bit of restraint…if I had a bit worse of a temper, there may have been a serious incident, and all over the truth.

So is it so surprising that people avoid telling it knowing that reactions like this could happen?

#4. We’re Taught to Pick and Choose Our Honest Statements

We’re told our entire lives that “honesty is the best policy”, but that’s not entirely true, is it? We tell our children that they should always be upfront and honest, but if they then tell a complete stranger that they’re fat we get all embarrassed and sweep our kid aside to tell them that it’s not nice to call people fat. “But it’s the truth!” the kid might say. “Yeah, but it’s not nice,” we repeat. “It’s rude,” we might even add.

It’s one of those annoying aspects of humanity. We know that it’s usually best to tell the truth, but somewhere along the line we came up with this idea of “socially accepted”, and that keeps us from telling the truth in a great number of situations, governed by an ever-increasing list of social “rules”. It’s okay for a doctor to tell their patient that they’re overweight and need to lose weight to be healthy, but if a random stranger tells the same person the same thing it’s considered extremely rude and “none-of-their-damn-business!” It’s the same truth no matter what way you look at it, but it’s only accepted in the right situation, and so we learn to avoid that truth at all costs.

I’m going to give another example that kinda makes me look like an asshole, because screw it, those are the best examples.

Have you ever had an employer ask you to give your honest opinion of someone that they’re looking to possibly hire? I have had this situation thrust upon me several times, and the first time it happened was when I was working on the paper mill. My supervisor asked me about a guy who had submitted a resume that showed he graduated from the same university as me only a year after me. When I saw the name on the resume I almost had a panic attack. This guy is an anomaly amongst anomalies. He was – no holds barred – the stupidest person I’d ever met in my life, and I genuinely believe that the professors in our program pushed him through to graduation just to make sure they wouldn’t be dealing with him for the rest of their careers. This guy literally set his shop project on fire because he didn’t know that copper conducts electricity (in an electrical engineering program!!!!), and the most significant sentence of his thesis presentation was, “It didn’t work and I’m not sure why”. I told my supervisor this and more, along with my honest believe that if this particular guy got into the mill he would probably blow it the hell up within a week. My supervisor thanked me and I probably saved the company a lot of money and grief, but then again, can you imagine if I’d said all that to the actual guy’s face? People would ask me what the hell was wrong with me, because even if it’s the complete and honest truth, you just don’t tell people that they’re completely incompetent fools. It’s one of the rules.

#3. We’re Afraid We’ll Look Like Assholes

Cheese gives the example of a spouse who slowly loses sexual interest in their partner who has been steadily gaining weight. Such a thing doesn’t make you a bad person – you can’t control what you find attractive – but you don’t ever tell your spouse about it because you know that the result is going to be that they think you’re a total ass for not being able to somehow rewire your brain to continue finding their changed state sexy. And if we’re really being honest here, you feel like an asshole too, even when you know you have no reason to.

Here’s an example that actually involves me being the victim. When I somewhere between four and five months pregnant, I was on a course for my apprenticeship. We would break for lunch every day at noon, and usually I would just buy something at the school cafeteria, but on this particular day I was starving and wanted something fat. So I drove to the nearest McDonalds, which happened to be located inside the nearby Wal-Mart. I don’t remember exactly what I bought, but it involved a flurry of some kind, so I was leaving the restaurant with a bag of food, plus a large cup of ice cream. The way the store is laid out, if you’re leaving the restaurant you have to walk past all the Wal-Mart cash registers on your way out. So I’m walking past all these people checking out and I hear this older lady (about 60 or so) speaking at an entirely too high volume. She was glaring at me out of the corner of her eye and saying something to the tune of, “Stupid teenagers these days wonder why they’re so goddamn fat but then they eat fast food all day every day.”

The statement could have easily been the truth. Maybe this woman had a teenage grandkid who constantly stuffed their face with Mickey-D’s and then whined and cried about being fat.

But it wasn’t the truth, and for once in my life I wasn’t letting it go. I looked the woman right in the eye and told her, “First off, I’m not fat, I’m pregnant. Second of all, I’m not a teenager, I’m twenty-three-years-old. And last of all, what I eat is none of your goddamn business.” And I’ve never seen anyone turn so red in all my life.

It doesn’t matter that what the old bat said wasn’t actually the truth…she believed it to be the truth, and speaking it allowed turned her into a complete asshole. Her husband and the lady manning the cashier looked like they would never stop laughing, and more than one nearby observer was raising their eyebrows at the old broad. And I’ll bet that woman kept her mouth shut for quite a while afterwards, because once you make yourself look like that kind of asshole, you really really don’t want to do it again.

#2. The Truth Hurts…No, Seriously

Have you ever made someone cry by telling them the truth? If you haven’t, try to continue that record, because few things will make you feel more like a horrible, terrible piece of crap.

Cheese gives the example that you can’t be honest with a child when they’re being an annoying brat, because you can’t just tell a kid that they’re an annoying brat. Well, you can, but if you do you’re a pretty horrible person and you should feel bad about yourself. It’s the same with telling someone that they’re overweight, or that outfit looks monstrous on them, or that their house looks look a mud-covered bull ran through it. In the same way that being honest about some things can cause hostility, they can also hurt a person deep inside in a way that could gnaw on them for the rest of their life (depending, of course, on the truth you’ve told and how sensitive the person is). And when you cause that kind of damage to someone it can really affect you as well (presuming, of course, that you’re not a heartless monster).

I mentioned this in another post once, but I think it’s a good example for this one. All my life I’ve loved singing, and when I was a kid I would sometimes get a little more into it than was necessarily tolerable to other people. Once, when I was at a Tim Horton’s with my father, I started singing some song or another. I was only maybe six or seven, so it didn’t really occur to me at all that my singing might be a little annoying for the people around me. I started out moderately quiet, but eventually started getting louder and louder, until eventually my father broke off the conversation he’d been having with a friend and told me, “Tracey, be quiet. No one wants to hear you singing.”

It was the stone cold truth, and he definitely didn’t mean for the statement to be mean, but to me at that time it was like a punch right in the stomach. I was a kid who thought she had a great singing voice and that of course everyone would think I was so talented and adorable and love me to pieces. So to be told “No one wants to hear you singing” was like being told, “You’re annoying and no one likes you.” And – not a word a lie – after that day I avoided singing in front of anyone for years unless they’d specifically asked me to. That wasn’t at all the reaction my father was looking for, I’m sure, but unfortunately sometimes that’s what happens when you tell the truth.

#1. The “True You” Isn’t Good Enough

And now we’re down to the real nitty-gritty of the lying world, and that is that we’re all just worried that we aren’t “good enough”. As Cheese explains, this is partially a kind of defense mechanism. For example, you’re never going to be totally honest in a job interview, because you’re not likely to get the job if you admit that you hate authority and are only suffering through this nonsense because the bills are building up and you’ve got to do something. Little lies like that are reasonable because, dammit, you’ve gotta work. But it goes a lot further than that, with lots and lots of these little lies building up on top of each other. You act like your coworker is your best friend because you don’t want to make waves at work, but in reality you hate their guts. You think your family’s religion is complete nonsense but you keep going to church because you don’t want to be seen as the heathen. You wear what society tells you to wear so that you fit in. You have an aneurysm cleaning your house before company comes over because god forbid they find out that you let the laundry pile up and the floor get dusty. We all do it, and the result is that we have a hundred different faces that we put on depending on who we’re dealing with and what the situation is. There’s the face you put on for your employer, which is different from the face you show your coworkers, and neither of those are anything like the face you show your spouse, which is way different from what you show your parents, and so on and so on.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to avoid this habit a little better by not caring so much about what other people think of me, but even still I have my faces just like everyone else. A good example is this blog. Though I try to be honest and upfront about who I am and what I’m all about, I’ll actively avoid bringing up topics that I feel strongly about because I don’t want any of my readers to dislike me as a result. I try not to bring up religion or politics, for instance, because I don’t want any of my readers to think less of me because of my choices, and thus stop reading. In that way I’m no different from the little girl I used to be, who would hide her sketches of anime characters so that the other kids wouldn’t think she was a loser. We all hide the parts of ourselves that we don’t think other people will like, because we all want to be accepted, and we’re constantly worried that we’re not good enough for the people we want to be good enough for.


All in all, it’s a pretty silly system we have, where people get mad or depressed for being told things they probably already knew, where we teach kids to be honest…but only to a point, and where we avoid honesty at all costs because of our own personal insecurities. But all those things keep us from being honest because the fact is that a lot of the time it’s just easier on everyone to use the lie. Knowing everything you’ve just read, can you imagine how stressful the world would be if we all just started telling the truth all the time?

What do you think? Are we all a little gone in the head? Have you ever experienced any of the situations above from the liar’s side? From the “victim”‘s side? How often do you tell the truth in a possibly uncomfortable situation? Do you believe that sometimes it’s just easier on everyone to lie? Share!

Theory: Only Your Own Brain Knows How Screwed Up You Really Are

Dreams have always been something that amaze me, perhaps in part because I have so many of them. Whether due to a sleep issue that keeps me in REM sleep more often than I should be, or simply because my imagination doesn’t like to turn off, I seem to spend significantly more time dreaming than most people I know. Therefore I spend a lot of time contemplating my dreams, from the interesting and confusing, to the downright “what the hell”-level insanity.

"Welcome to your messed-up subconscious. We'll be your guides."
“Welcome to your messed-up subconscious. We’ll be your guides.”

I’m not a person who believes that specific symbols in dreams mean the same thing no matter who is dreaming them, but I do believe that what we dream about says something about us if we can only figure out what. And since I often have the same dreams over and over, I thought I’d share a few of them.

Recurring Dream #1: Math is the Devil

One dream that I have so often it makes me seriously wonder about myself is the one in which I’m back in school. The dream can vary in a number of different ways, but there are a few key factors that are always the same. One is that my best friend is always there as well, regardless of whom else the dream my feature. Another is that the school in question is outrageously enormous, a sprawling city that is almost impossible to navigate and usually results in my wandering around for hours just trying to find my classroom. But the most important key factor is the math. This dream always features me back in math class and I’m failing miserably. Every time I have this dream, I’ve somehow managed to miss an entire semester’s worth of math classes and thus am excruciatingly far behind. This is always frustrating and panic-inducing because I don’t even know how I managed to miss so many classes. Often I have a notebook full to the brim with homework that I didn’t do, with no idea how I even have it. This dream always results in some major anxiety as I try to teach myself advanced calculus so that I won’t fail the course. I’ve never completed this dream in any way…either pass or fail. I always wake while still panicking.

Recurring Dream #2: Teenage War

One of my stranger and more involved dreams, this one features myself and everyone I knew from high school participating in some crazy, futuristic war. We’re always in this weird indoor town – there’s houses and fences and grass and trees, but you can also see huge white walls and a ceiling around the borders of the place. Everything is brightly lit and almost cheery-looking, but there are fires and explosions and gunfire everywhere. My classmates and I are fighting against some strange robotic army, like a messed-up combination between the Skynet robots and the Daleks. It’s all very cinematic and exciting. There’s danger around every corner, but never in this particular dream am I even the least bit scared or concerned. I’m just running around with an enormous gun, taking out robots. Often in this dream myself and a select few others (usually my husband and my best friend) will go on a secret mission that involves sneaking through these air-duct-like tunnels beneath and above the “town”. This dream has never found completion either. I always just keep dreaming about the fighting until I wake up.

Recurring Dream #3: Dumped

This one doesn’t pop up nearly as often as the other ones, but every so often I’m plagued by dreams in which my husband is either cheating on me, has dumped me, or is acting as though he’s never met me before. These dreams are weird in the sense that I don’t have the reaction you would normally have in such situations. Rather than being furious or feeling horribly betrayed or what-have-you, my reaction is always more childish, more like that of a teenager whose found out that their crush likes someone else. I always feel terribly sad, but in a pathetic, self-pitying kind of way, and usually when I have a dream like this I wake up still feeling depressed and vulnerable.

Recurring Dream #4: The Never-Ending House

The other dreams I can at least think of a little bit of some kind of explanation for, but this one flabbergasts me. On a regular basis I will dream about my husband and I moving into a new house. Oftentimes my parents or his or both will be there, I guess to help us move in, and it’ll be a bit like a party. The weird part comes when, inevitably, I’ll be looking for something and discover that there are extra parts to the house that we didn’t know were there when we bought it. I’ll find entire extra wings filled with numerous bedrooms and bathrooms, big game rooms. Sometimes it’ll be an enormous basement that we just somehow never noticed the stairs for. Sometimes it’ll be a basement, but it’s like this giant underground catacomb under the house that winds up being full of old furniture and boxes full of old artifacts. Most often, however, it’ll just seem like the hallways are never-ending. Like, there will be this one hallway full of doors that lead to bedrooms and bathrooms, but one of those doors will lead to another hallway which is also full of bedrooms and bathrooms, and so on and so on. In these dreams I’m never confused as to where all this extra space is coming from or how we never noticed it before, but sometimes I’ll find myself getting lost, going up and down stairways and not able to find my way back to where I started from. There’s never anything scary or upsetting about these dreams; on the contrary, usually I’m super-excited to have found that my new house is a hundred times bigger than I thought it was.


So what do you think? Am I completely insane? I can see signs of inner anxiety, maybe some self-doubt and uncertainty about the future, but that’s all guessing, really. For the most part I look at these dreams – which I have on a very regular basis – and I can’t help but wonder to myself if my brain is playing games with me. Surely fighting robot wars and having a house that just seems to grow and grow can’t really mean anything, and yet my subconscious sees fit to throw those same images back at me all the time. It’s a great mystery and I will be the first in line the day they figure out a way to record dreams, because this insanity bears deeper investigation and analysis.

How about you? Any crazy dreams that show up in your mind regularly? What do you think about dream analysis? Please share!

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 29

Before I get on with the accountability today, I want to mention a couple of things.

First, a huge hug to the new followers I’ve been getting on this blog and on Twitter. I’m not sure exactly what I’ve been doing lately that suddenly has people sneaking in out of the shadows toward my sites, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Welcome, thanks for coming, and I hope you stick around! 🙂

Second, on a whim I recently tried Googling myself, and I was quite amused to find that the first three results were actually me. I rather don’t need my 9gag profile popping up on Google, but I was happy to see that the second result was this blog and the third was my 750Words.com account. It’s a good sign when your real persona pops up on Google, right?

Third: a call out for info and/or advice. I’ve Googled this problem many times but I can never seem to find anything that quite matches my issue. I’ve been having trouble sleeping again (it seems to happen for several weeks at a time, a few times a year), and the issue as far as I can describe it is that I spend an inordinate amount of time in dream sleep (REM sleep), meaning that my rest isn’t, well…restful. I’m waking up feeling like hell even when I sleep 9 or more hours, and it’s very wearing. I’ve consulted my doctor before and his only suggestion was to try antidepressants, which I thought was a little silly and insulting since I’m pretty damn confident that I’m not depressed. So since I can’t seem to find any information on my own, I thought I’d ask here on the off-chance someone may know something or suffer from similar. Help?

Okay, on to the accountability.

Health and Body Image Goal

If I’m totally honest, I’ve plummeted miserably on this one. I’ve been doing no form of exercise and have been eating rather terribly. It doesn’t help that I’m experiencing sleep issues, as mentioned above. I keep trying to convince myself to get up a little early in the mornings (before it’s scorching hot out) and do my zombie runs, but I haven’t been able to manage it because I’m so damn tired. I need some motivation, terribly, and that’s a fact.

Editing Goal

It’s been a surprisingly busy week so I haven’t managed to sit down at my laptop for very long periods of time, but I’m still (slowly) plugging away at my supernatural romance. Really, really looking forward to finishing so I can submit it to a publisher and move on to my zombie apocalypse.

1,000,000 Word Goal

It hasn’t been a great week, but I did manage to get a few words in. Between blogging and a return to 750Words, I managed to get in 4802 words this week. I’m hoping to ramp it up this week through a series of ideas I’ve compiled, one of which is to use 750Words.com in the mornings to empty my brain of the dreams I’m plagued with every night. It might be a pro-bono situation…I get extra words, and maybe writing down the dreams will make them go the hell away. Starting this Sunday, as well, I plan to start reading The Artist’s Way and work my way through the 12-week process, so look forward to that.

29 weeks down, 23 to go. Here’s hoping the remaining 23 start to look up a little!

Difficulty Level: Hard

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

85. The most difficult scene or piece you’ve ever written.

This prompt could be looked at in a couple of different ways depending on your definition of “difficult”. The first thought that came into my head was difficult in the emotional sense, in that it was difficult to write because of some personal issue. Then I thought about difficulty in the sense of being hard to write because the words won’t come or you can’t figure out how to explain what you’re imagining.

So in my typical, indecisive manner, I decided to write about both. Lucky you, hmm?

First, emotional difficulty:
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve done some of my best writing while I was depressed, so you would expect that there would be lots of examples of this, but there actually aren’t. I’ve written a lot while depressed, but I’ve rarely written something that made me depressed.

There is one scene, however, that I found very difficult to write emotionally. It wasn’t difficult because of any personal issues; it was difficult because it involved the death of a character. Now call me crazy if you wish (I know some of you are thinking it, don’t lie!) but I know there are lots of writers out there who have my back on this one. I had a very, very difficult time writing the scene because it genuinely hurt. I had invested a lot in this character, had created a person who I cared about. And then, for the good of the story, I had to write about life leaving this character as their friends looked on in horror. I’m not proud…I got a little choked up. It was like choosing to kill a friend. That might seem a little ridiculous to some, but I look at it as a good sign. After all, how can I expect my readers to be touched by the scene if it doesn’t even affect me?

As for literal difficulty, the hardest scene I ever had to write was definitely the first battle scene I ever wrote. It was very difficult because I could visualize what I wanted to be happening, but I couldn’t determine the words I needed to convey that scene. I don’t have a great deal of knowledge about weaponry, swordplay, fighting stances, and so on, so my descriptions boiled down to oversimplified sentences such as, “the swords clashed against one another” and “he dodged and slashed out his own attack”. It drove me mad because as I was writing it I knew that anyone who read it would be imaging something tame and boring, while I had this epic battle raging through my head.

Since that first scene I’ve gotten much more practice writing fights and battles. I’ve made a point of attempting to retain the information I glean from others’ books, as well as from movies and other sources, and I’ve found that it has helped a great deal. To this day I still find battles very difficult, but they are much easier than they used to be, which hopefully means I’m learning. No pain, no gain!