“12 Rules For Life” Series, Part 8

It’s been like, 18 or so weeks that I’ve been doing this series. I decided to do away with the formality. These blog posts won’t be anywhere as casual as the language on the show so I won’t be saying ‘fuck’ every fifth word, but these ARE blog posts and especially in the spirit of this week I want to be as true to myself as possible.

Rule 8 in Dr. Peterson’s book is ” tell the truth- or, at least, don’t lie”. I love that. I may have said some variant of this before but this rule is one of my favorites, but in the sense that it’s one that I implement the most in my life. This idea is part of what got Offie and I to Salt of The Streets. The search and attempted execution of the truth.

I used to lie ALL the time. For no reason. This is by NO MEANS an excuse but possibly a partial explanation, my sister is 7 years older than me and she STILL lies constantly. Primarily to herself. She was a big influence in my life pretty much through high school and so were all the people she hung out with. Some of those people turned into my brothers, like David who I talk about all the time, and others never taught me a positive thing.

I lied, I cheated, I stole pretty much any time I had the opportunity. For no reason. Not always, but I probably started lying regularly the same time I started smoking pot which was 12-13 years old. Not something I’m proud of, but just a fact of my reality. I started stealing regularly around age 15. From random people mostly but some from family which was the worst part of all. Never money or valuables, just drugs or alcohol or cigarettes. Which doesn’t make it any better, except maybe to me. Once I started to sell drugs to support all of my habits, I started lying to and stealing from anyone I could or had to to make a little extra money or just make myself look better.

One of the points Dr. Peterson makes in this chapter is that all big lies are made of smaller ones, and ever if you only tell small lies they will culminate in a large one. I found that so incredibly true. I remember when my sister and mom discovered I had been stealing weed and cigarettes from them. I had been lying about it for so long, but just little lies every time. Eventually they came together in a lie large enough to sever the relationship I had with my sister and her friends because they were just that. HER friends. They didn’t want to hang out with a kid who was stealing from his family. My mom couldn’t trust anything I had said from the moment she started to suspect someone was taking her stuff, and then questioned everything I said afterward, with good reason.

I also lied about homework and assignments I had done which only culminated in a struggle to graduate. Not being honest with myself when I finished school led me to trying to marry a girl I didn’t love because I was going to join the military and didn’t want to be alone. That’s wrong for so many reasons, including the fact that my lies to myself were about to ruin the life of some girl who barely knew better. Lying is wrong. We all know that. But lying to yourself can be some of the worst lies of all.

That’s something else I took from this chapter is how much Dr. Peterson focuses on lying to yourself, or self deception. People most commonly lie to themselves about what they want to do with their lives – part of that is accepting that sometimes your truth changes. You don’t always know what you want. People, especially kids in college, spend X-amount of dollars going to school for X-amount of years and then if they come out on the back end with a degree in science but end up wanting to be an artist, they have so much invested already in what they thought they wanted that they will lie to try and convince themselves that’s indeed what they want. No one will ever be happy living in self deception.

But part of what Dr. Peterson said in this chapter is that sometimes being honest with yourself is understanding that you are wrong. It is a lie to try and convince yourself that what you have now is better than what you could have. It is a lie to live your life doing something that makes you unhappy. I don’t know if cutting neoprene is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I know right now that it makes me feel fulfilled. It provides for my family, I have learned an incredibly specific trade, (but a trade none the less) and I get to improve peoples lives everyday.

Until a few weeks ago I thought I might cut neoprene for the rest of my life, which halfway scared me and halfway made me feel secure. I know (or at least feel extremely confident) that I could be employed at this company for the rest of my life. I feel comfortable at this job and seem to be fairly good at it. But nothing makes me feel as happy as seeing someones face light up when I just helped them connect some dots. Nothing makes me more passionate, as my wife likes to call it, than identifying something that reads to me as an injustice to even a small group of people.

It scares me sometimes to think about not working or even about the thought of telling my bosses that I am going to go and do something else after they have invested so much time in me. But, especially after reading this chapter, I understand that even if the place you are feels like it couldn’t get any better, that’s ignorant. Ignorant of the possibilities that await or even the possibility OF possibilities. You have to stay open to the world around you to truly be honest with yourself.

My favorite thing I read in this chapter was about identifying a lie. Dr. Peterson said after a certain amount of time he was able to connect lies he was telling with a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, which I agreed with completely. I have said a thousand times that I follow my stomach. It’s how I run my life and how I decide what is right. Once you identify what it feels or looks like when you lie, you can do your best to avoid it. When I made a conscious decision to stop lying, my life got much much better. I got a series of increasingly improving jobs. I got together with my wife. I met Colin. My wife got pregnant. All of these things would not have come to fruition had I not begun to just be honest.

This is something I advocate to EVERYONE I know. Just be honest. All the time. If someone says something you don’t think is true, say that. Don’t be a dick about it, but say something. If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, consider all options no matter the stigma that you have established around them. Be true to yourself about what matters to you and what doesn’t. Pick the hills you are willing to die on. Pick your battles, but know which ones are really important to you. Live your life the best way you can, the first step to that is the be honest- or, at least, don’t lie.