Category Archives: The Truth Experiment

A commitment to100% honesty for a whole year

Day 99: Success in Slow Motion

I’ve been away from writing for so long I feel as though I need to report to you everything that has happened in my absence.  In truth, I don’t.  Suffice it to say that being unemployed is a mixed bag of  relaxed freedom and paralyzing stress.

I have spent these past weeks consumed in problem solving, which means my mental energies have been consciously or unconsciously devoted to figuring out four important areas of my life: income (basic survival), housing (selling my stuff and moving in with roommates), transportation (public transit vs. new car) and creative purpose (what am I doing with my life?)

And if that wasn’t enough, romance has shoved itself into the equation.  It seems as though the day I decided I was done with dating, it started raining men. Thirty-something, single, men.  I know I shouldn’t be complaining but… really?  Now?

So as you can imagine, my mental faculties have been somewhat consumed, and I’ve returned to my usual mental hiccuping (i.e. any combination of stuttering, tip-of-the-tongue syndrome, kindergarten vocabulary, mid-conversation memory loss and a general sense of intellectual dullness).  This has proven to be a major hurdle for my writing and my ego.

It’s been little over a month, and I’ve made such slow progress.  When I decided to quit my job, I hadn’t anticipated the car fire, nor had I factored the cost of buying its replacement into my expense planning.  I am getting close to reaching my last dime and the sense of self-assuredness I had when I first submitted my resignation has vanished.

I still don’t regret quitting.  But I also don’t have any answers.

I wish I could write here telling you that everything in my life is fabulous now, that I could say “Wow!  See?  It all worked out so perfectly!” but I can’t because it’s not.  I think that what’s so charming about success stories is that the authors get to fast forward through the days of drudgery, the weeks on end when they deeply doubted themselves, their frivolity and their impulsive decision-making.  I’ve avoided writing you because I want to do that too.  I want to fast forward.

But there’s no place to fast forward to.  Once these problems are solved new ones will pop up.

On second thought, there are many ways my life is fabulous right now.  I’m happier than before.  While I don’t have money, I do have love and support and fun and laughter.  I’ve had the flexibility and freedom to spend quality time with friends and family, and remember how fortunate I am to have such incredibly kind and generous people in my life.  Too, this adventure has given me opportunities to meet even more amazing people.  So things are good, even if I can’t measure them with a financial yard stick.

For now, I’ll focus on writing and developing my own biz, but mostly on selling my stuff and sending out resumes (because I really need to pay next month’s rent).  If you know anyone who is looking to hire, I make for one awesome social worker ;)

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Day 74: Embracing Uncertainty

As I’ve been reading and rereading the self-help books that will somehow transform my mind and make this entrepreneurial path suddenly easy (yeah right), I’ve had several light bulb moments.  Not those big beautiful incandescent globes.  No, I’m talking tiny, twinkling gnome-hat bulbs–the kind found draped over shrubberies during the holiday season. Itty bitty shiny realizations.

Realization #1

Many of the blog stories inspiring folks to trade a nine-to-five for their own online business have a lot to do with exotic world travel.  Bloggers gush about remote work locations in the Bahamas, and for the first time ever, readers get excited about what’s possible for their lives.  These stories are important and very much needed.

Unfortunately, they don’t do a whole lot for me because I’ve traveled my ass off; I’ve been to Europe five times.  Five!!  I’m not saying that to be boastful.  I am fortunate to have a mother who introduced me to international travel at the ripe age of 11.  So, I caught the travel bug early and made European backpacking a top priority.  When something is a priority, you figure out how to make it happen again and again and again.

But something has changed.  My priorities are shifting.  And now I’m talking to myself:

Lindsey, why the hell did you quit your job?

Because I was miserable.  Duh.

Yeah, but what about it was making you so miserable?

You mean, besides the soul-sucking management practices, prison-like glow of overhead fluorescents and confining cubicle walls?

Yeah, besides that.

Good question.  I was miserable because I had the skill and the means to fully empower clients in improving their lives, but was required to hold back and do less for the client due to company constraints.

Imagine Superman forced to ride a public bus to save a woman from a burning building, only to find her already crispy by the time he gets there. That was my level of frustration.

As much as I love the flexibility and freedom of working for myself, it’s the opportunity to do truly meaningful work and better peoples lives to the full extent of my creativity, that drives me.  That is my priority now.

Realization #2

The scariest thing about quitting didn’t have to do with loss of income.  I didn’t quit that job.  I quit traditional employment as a whole.  I’ve made a commitment to pursuing self-employment and entrepreneurship for the rest of my life.  It’s not that I’ll never have a job again.  The fact is I might temporarily need to sustain myself with a part time gig here or there until I figure out how to make money independently, but I will never again rely solely on an HR Department for my economic survival.

Realization #3

I also made a commitment to create a livelihood that’s in harmony with my deepest values: honesty, sincerity, connection, loving-kindness.  This seems like a tall order for such a naive and inexperienced entrepreneur.  It means I face questions like: “Is there such thing as honest marketing?” and “If not, can I create it and still be successful?”

I’m doing my best to embrace the uncertainty of it all (with a lot of help from the admirable Jonathan Fields).  My progress has been somewhat slow, but I have made progress.  That’s all I’m counting for right now.

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Day 69: How Honesty Builds Courage

This was my Weekend

I stand watching four handsome firemen extinguish my car engine, which had spontaneously caught fire at 70 mph on the freeway.

Are you f-ing kidding me?

Nope.

That’s really what happened.

Don’t worry.  I’m all in one piece.  But, I must be freaking out.  Right?  I mean, I have no job, and now I am sans vehicle in a city that has a crappy public transit system, which makes any kind of temp work or job hunting immeasurably more difficult. Time to panic, right? Continue reading

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Day 65: Take This Job and Shove It

New Beginnings

I started off the New Year right.  I started it jobless.  That’s right folks.  I quit!

Sounds exciting but quitting didn’t turn out quite the way I imagined.  Rather than submitting my resignation with a heroic shove to the shocked and disappointed expression of my supervisor, I slipped my notice quietly, sneaking out the back door relatively unnoticed by coworkers. Continue reading

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Day 42: The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

The Minimalists

I met these great guys last Saturday.  Their names are Josh and Ryan and they write a blog about minimalism.  Well.  It’s not really about minimalism.  It’s about living a meaningful life and how making money and acquiring stuff doesn’t bring the fulfillment or satisfaction we think it will.

Ryan and Josh are on a tour to promote their new book, meet other cool minimalists, like moi, and that’s how I got to meet them.  Saturday they came to Phoenix and spoke about how they’ve changed their lives; they spoke about letting go of possessions and fancy corporate titles, about living with less and creating more. Continue reading

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Day 28: Do Just One Thing

Gum tree & footpath to Baldwin
 

Some days, from the moment I wake up until the time I go to sleep, are just plain bad.  No matter how much positive thinking I do, I can’t shake the negativity.  It’s like the 24-hr-cold of emotion.

Today was such a day.

I’m not telling you this to get sympathy.  I don’t expect you to care.  Honestly.  But I noticed that I deal with these kinds of days differently than I used to, and I hope that my transparency can be of some use. Continue reading

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Day 26: What is the Purpose?

Detail of Lunaria annua (Honesty) flower

I had coffee with a friend yesterday who asked me what my end goal is.  What is the purpose of this blog?  I had such a hard time articulating my response.  I had difficulty because part of my purpose is intuitive, and I haven’t concretely defined all the aspects of it.  But also, when asked so directly, I stall out of embarrassment.  I expect people to think that what I’m about to say is saccharine or naïve.

The answer is that I don’t want to hurt any more, and I don’t want others to hurt any more.  It seems a good portion of human suffering is avoidable, and that a lot of our suffering is caused by the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others. Continue reading

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Day 21: How to Give Honest (but Friendly) Feedback

photo credit: Buzzfeed, Dave Stropera

This little social experiment has given birth to some incredible conversations about fear and authenticity.  In one of these conversation a friend recently confided that, as hard as she tries to be honest, she often holds back what she’s thinking for fear of offending someone.

Open Up

That’s a legitimate concern.  In a materialist culture of good-better-best, most people have underlying fears about their worth, and when we’re open about our opinions, we chance to stumble over each others’ deeply buried insecurities.  I know because, a few weeks ago, another friend stumbled over mine. Continue reading

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Time to Get Naked

Whenever taking on a new project or making a major life change, my thinking becomes clouded and fuzzy.  In conversation, I stutter over finding the right words to express myself and, in mid-sentence, will forget what I was going to say (that’s always impressive on a first date).

This very thing has been happening to me lately, and it’s interfered with my writing too (as you may have noticed).  At first, I thought I wasn’t writing because I had run out of ideas.  The truth is that what’s been consuming my brain power is the thing I am most excited and most fearful of writing about. Continue reading

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Day 11: Honesty Project — Why Weird is Brave

lindsey fox

I’ve been sick all day which has given me a lot of time to do nothing but watch movies, suck on 27 cough drops and lay around thinking about life.  Today, I was prepared to write a long post about self-awareness, but instead I want to write about an idea that has been haunting my thoughts for a few weeks now: being weird.

Growing Up

Like everyone else, I grew up in a culture from which I learned valuative norms, that is, which things are good or bad, right or wrong, weird or normal.  As a child I saw my friends strive to fit within these norms, as did I, in order to avoid conflict and receive love and acceptance from parents and other authority figures.

On some level I thought fitting in would make me happy even though it oftentimes meant squashing my true nature–my creativity, intuition, ambitions, etc.  Many of my friends were much better at squashing than I was, and I often felt like a Weirdo. Continue reading

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The Start of Something Scary

After writing my last post, I thought “Oh god.  This blog has already become depressing”.  But that’s not what I want.

I don’t want my writing to be yet one more platform for people to feel bad about the world they live in.  Nor do I want this to become the narcissistic catharsis that so many other blogs become. So, I asked myself: “what do I want to come from this?”

These are the answers that came up:

I want to help people

I want people to feel better about their lives

I want them to feel more connected and less lost, confused, or lonely

I want people to know that it’s okay to be honest, real and open, and that their true selves are completely lovable

I want people to become more self-aware  so that they can make the kinds of choices that lead to richer and more joyful lives

I want to subject myself to a social experiment of 100% transparency, 100% self-acceptance and 0% shame, and document the entire thing on this blog.

Whew!  All of those statements feel incredibly true, and having put them down has somehow lifted a weight in my body that I hadn’t noticed was there.  That very last statement (the one about transparency) scares the bejeesus out of me (literally my arm hairs stood on end when I wrote it) which is a good sign that I absolutely should do it.

*sigh*

Here goes nothin’.

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Turning Point

Today I was asked to lie.

More specifically, my supervisor is asking me to input false data in thousands of cases for the next 3 weeks so that our company can report better outcomes to our internal client (yes, the one that cuts our checks).  In other words, we would be saying we were more effective in empowering families than we actually were, so that we can make more money.

I refused.

It’s nothing new, but this time the request came from one of my superiors I most trust and respect.  That was disheartening.  Most frustrating of all, however,  is that instead of improving our service delivery so we can more effectively help these welfare families, we cover up the reality of the situation so as to save our own comfy asses.

Each time I’ve been asked to lie, I’ve said no, but the expectation of dishonesty for the sake of company profit (at the sake of the impoverished) is beating down on me.

Today was a turning point.  I have long wanted to be an entrepreneur and start my own business.  Now is the time.

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