Earlier this year, I traveled to Manila, Philippines for the first time ever. With it’s luscious jungles, modern architecture, crowded malls and muggy hot weather, Philippines feels like a cross between Bangkok, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It’s an fantastic place to be. The food, the culture, the sights, they’re all amazing. The best part about Philippines for me though are the people. Not only are they friendly and always willing to help, they’re also some of the most honest, genuine people I’ve met throughout my travels.
I remember sitting down at a local restaurant the very first night and having an intensely engaging conversation with a few of the workers there. Having heard it was my very first visit in Philippines, they made it their mission to come up with a list of over 50 things, mostly food, to try. They educated me on their culture, taught me local etiquette, and warned me of things to be aware of. Most importantly, they shared their stories with me about how they grew up, their struggles, their ambitions, their dreams, and their goals.
They told me stories of their visa applications being rejected, the kind of racial abuse they encountered working in other countries, pressure from their family to do more, difficulties of growing up as a single child, and their expectations to uphold family traditions. The conversation we had that night felt heartfelt, genuine, and free of motive, unlike the kind of first-time you’d expect with a group of random strangers.
It’s ironic because that level of honesty is rarely found even amongst our own friends and family.
I recently invited a close friend to eat at a new dining establishment I’ve been meaning to try. The food, ambience and decor looked amazing in the photos. The only downside was the cost — it wasn’t luxurious by any means, but it was slightly more expensive than the average lunch. My friend, as soon as he saw the photos of the restaurant, was ecstatic about going, until he saw the prices. What was an obvious interest in going had quickly turned into a lie:
Actually let’s go somewhere else. I didn’t recognize it just now, but my parents and I have actually been coming here for years. It’s good food, but I’m sick of it.
Why did he lie? Was it his ego? The fear of being looked down on? A fear of embarrassment? Regardless, there was no reason to have lied in the first place. A ‘that’s too expensive’ would’ve sufficed.
There’s no reason not be honest to our friends and family when even strangers half a world away are capable of doing so on their very first meeting. Think about this: if your friends judge you based on how much money you have and how much money you make, what does that say about their character? Are they really your friends?
Too often we lie to the people close to us because of our ego, our pride. We don’t want to look weak, unaccomplished and meaningless; so we hide behind a front, a facade, the very same facade that we show to everyone else. We paint the very best version of our lives on Facebook and Instagram and fall into a vicious cycle of comparing lives.
In our inability to be honest, we lose the ability to trust. We lie to friends and family for the sake of upholding the image we’ve created online. We lie so we’re accepted. We lie so we’re liked.
But it’s not necessary; it never has been. If people can’t see you for who you are, they’re not deserving of you. People who truly care about you will always have your best interests at heart, regardless of what your life is like. They won’t judge, they don’t look down on you, and they’ll accept you for everything that you are.
All it takes is honesty.
“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” -John Lennon