Do you remember when I took an oath of transparency last year?
Remember that it was fulfilled – that I was honest, and as transparent as a clear glass wall?
Well, it was pointless.
Okay, maybe that’s dramatic. I’m a drama-romance fiction writer, a poet, and an actor so overdramatising everything is sorta my thing.
But honestly speaking, sometimes it is pointless. It’s pointless because transparency is only ever referred to unless there is a goal in mind. You don’t train yourself to become more adept to being exposed and emotionally vulnerable for no reason. You just don’t do something like that unless there’s something else that you’re trying to achieve. But if after all the transparency and openness, you’re still not satisfied, then damn. You wasted your time.
Don’t get me wrong: sometimes transparency’s only purpose is to free yourself from holding in your baggage. Not that you’re dumping your baggage unto someone else, but it’s just healthy to air your mind sometimes, right? We all know that right? I don’t need to go and explain why it’s healthy to talk about your feelings… right?
Because quite frankly, I don’t have the time.
I want to talk about what happens when transparency doesn’t achieve the goal it was created for. When your transparency was for clarity and/or revelation. When you decide to be honest about your concerns or confusion so that you can come to a definitive answer.
I came to talk about transparency’s most basic and fundamental purpose. Transparency for understanding. How do you find the answer to a maths question if you’re not honest with your teacher about your lack of understanding? How do you find the right directions if people don’t know that you’re lost? How do you get feedback on your technique if you’re dancing in a corner where no one can see you?
You want answers? You’re going to have to be transparent.
So what happens when your transparency doesn’t answer your question? What happens when you leave the situation STILL confused?
I hate to break this to you: it’s most likely not your fault. Don’t take a sigh of relief just yet because though it sounds like good news, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If it’s not your fault it means there’s little to nothing you can do about it.
Let me explain.
To be transparent requires a second party. To be transparent means that someone must be there to witness your transparency. So if you’re being transparent for the purpose of understanding, it most likely means that it is the other person who will grant you that understanding. You’re confused about something, so you decide to be transparent and tell them you’re confused which gives them the opportunity to give clarity and rid you of said confusion. But this doesn’t always happen.
I’m a philosophy student and we like to use thought experiments with fake characters a lot in our essays so excuse me while I geek out and use a thought experiment to provide an example for what I’m talking about.
X: I need to be transparent with you
Y: Go ahead
X: I’m confused about x
Y: Wow. Thank you for your transparency
Like okay, that example seems silly but it’s actually an accurate representation of what happens with our transparency. It is often acknowledged and admired but not used to fulfil any end result. Person X literally got no clarity in return. His state of confusion hasn’t been amended, he was just commended for his openness and willingness to share.
And this will happen to you unless you figure out the purpose of your transparency. Realise that you’re not just doing it to better your relationship with someone, or to get something off your mind, or to say your piece. It’s not an act of closure or therapy. You do it to understand. You do it for clarity. So when you’re transparent about the fact that you’re confused, don’t just accept a meek ‘thank you’. Demand discourse. Even if the other person doesn’t have an answer for you, at least a discussion about what they think is more helpful than nothing at all. I mean maybe Person Y genuinely doesn’t know the answer to X’s dilemma either. Maybe Person Y is just as confused as Person X. But an open dialogue about what could potentially be the correct answer couldn’t hurt, right? I mean surely attempting to figure it out together is better than telling the person “go and figure it out yourself and let me know when you have”.
In fact, you know what? You know I gotta do this. I gotta refer to the Word.
Proverbs 11:14 says,
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
And it says it again in Proverbs 15, and again in Proverbs 24.
I mean it doesn’t get clearer than that. We are a people in need of counsel. We weren’t designed to make all decisions based on purely our own understanding. We were designed to seek counsel, wise counsel.
But let me not get too church-y. I didn’t come for that – I came to say that your transparency is completely useless if you don’t demand a response to it. There is virtually no point in being open if the person on the receiving end of your openness doesn’t respond. I mean, yeah, you might feel good about yourself for being open and honest but did anything practical arise from it? Did you receive advice or counsel? No?
I’m learning, in my quest towards courage and transparency, that being open and honest is something that must be applied with wisdom. Is the timing right? Is the setting right? Is it appropriate? Who is the recipient of your transparency? Are they in a position to hear it? Are they someone who will respond?
If the answer is no, I’m not telling you to bite your tongue. I didn’t say that. I’m simply suggesting that you go and place your transparency elsewhere. Go to somewhere you know and trust that you will receive wise counsel. Be as opaque as water. Let them see you. That’s how you bring meaning back to your transparency.
And to the Person Y’s out there: I wrote about the gift of clarity and honestly speaking, if someone comes to you in honesty and vulnerability and tells you that they’re confused, and you don‘t try and help them figure it out, this blog post was definitely for you.
Live in Peace,