By Trinice Tan

Let’s be honest, in the public eye, we’re all a little more cautious about the version of ourselves we choose to show the world.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we’re all fake or virtue signalling. After all, no one is perfect and we are all human!

But there are certain social standards that we feel that we need to live up to, to be considered a “decent” human being.

So, should it matter then, if you privately don’t live up to these standards, as long as you act like you do in public. After all, who would know, right?

Is honesty really the best policy?

speak truth
Image source: Unsplash

One big question I’ve always had is: “Are people genuinely, completely honest? Or are they just pretending to align themselves with society’s expectations?”

Sometimes being honest could cause arguments, fights and rifts between people — sometimes to the extent of destroying that relationship.

Is there such a thing as being too honest?

Asking around, I realised that everyone has differing opinions.

Some of my friends believe that honesty comes first, no matter what. Even if it hurts their feelings or changes their perspective of something completely, they’d rather know the truth than be comforted with a lie.

Others subscribe to the “ignorance is bliss” mindset, or as Canadian author Margaret Atwood wrote: “What you don’t know won’t hurt you”.

A close friend told me that she’d rather be hurt by the truth because she believes that one way or another, the truth will come out eventually.

Personally, I believe in ripping off the band-aid, Receiving the truth upfront would hurt but the recovery process would be quicker. Living in ignorant bliss now only to find the truth out later on would hurt more, because it destroys trust.

But what if the situation was reversed, and you were put in a position to expose a lie — a lie that you know would hurt someone?

For the people who would rather be hurt with the truth, could you bear to do the same to someone else? And for those who would rather be told a lie, would you take on the burden of lying to protect someone else’s feelings?

To Be Honest…

filming in progress
Filming in progress. Image source: The Pride

Like many of us, I am guilty of behaving differently in public and in private.

Surrounded by the people I love, I am more open and honest with no fear of being judged. In public, I guard my opinions more closely, sometimes picking an answer that I know would not offend, or agree with the rest of the group.

But is that being truly honest?

Those were the thoughts in my head when I started a new series called “To Be Honest” — would people really be honest with me, a stranger, when I asked their opinions, or would they just give me a politically correct response that they may not necessarily agree with?

In TBH, we hit the streets to find out what Singaporeans really think about issues of the day.

Hosting TBH was a new experience for me as I got to interact with the interviewees and talk to them about life in general — and not just in front of the camera.

There were two types of interviewees. Some people were quite hesitant and shy about being interviewed and others were just downright excited, which was heartwarming to see.

Hearing their answers was the best part. There were a variety of stories that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to.

I had thought that the answers were going to be the same or at least very similar, but their uniqueness made me feel like I was learning more about Singaporeans on the streets.

One of the questions I asked was: “How do you define kindness today?”

go IJ
Image source: The Pride

I was afraid that people would give all the usual answers. Instead, I got a pleasant surprise.

A group of excited schoolgirls (go IJ!) giggled as they were being interviewed but one of them had a simple but deep response. She said that “anything that helps someone is kindness”.

That made me pause. We sometimes worry if we should be kind, or if our attempt at a kind act can be misinterpreted. Her answer made it simple: No matter how big or small the act, as long as there is the intention of helping, that is kindness.

Another guy said something that stuck with me. He said that kindness is “valuing others for their intrinsic human value and then demonstrating it back to them, that they are also valuable”.


Being honest about post production

Image source: Trinice Tan

The amount of time I spent binge watching Mothership Hits The Streets and The Daily Ketchup helped me to visualise how I wanted TBH to turn out.

Saying I was nervous is an understatement.

I’d never produced a video from scratch before — setting up pre-production, directing and hosting, and editing. So. Much. Editing.

Post-production was the hardest.

To be honest, I learned that I wasn’t as good at editing as I thought I was. Video editing requires a lot of patience and attention to detail, which I struggled with because while I wanted everything to be perfect, I also wanted it done quickly!

I have to say, there were times when I doubted that we could finish the project, but, surprisingly, that fear of failure was what kept me going.

It’s not easy to tell yourself to push on when you feel drained.

Yet whenever things started going south, I realised that my friends and colleagues were with me every step of the way. They showed me that behind every exhausted editor is a group of caring individuals offering a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on.

To Be Truly Kind

Image source: Jolene Soh

“What does it mean to truly be kind?” is a question I still ask myself from time to time.

Does being kind mean sparing someone’s feelings by telling them a lie, or by being upfront with them?

We define kindness as being friendly, generous and considerate. However, everyone has their own take on how to practise that kindness.

Some people feel that true kindness is exhibited when they are truly honest, being absolutely transparent and unfiltered with their thoughts and emotions.

Some might believe the opposite, filtering what they really mean, or choosing their words carefully to prevent someone from being hurt. These people feel that true kindness means doing their best to not hurt other peoples’ feelings.

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For me, being kind is taking the time to be friendly and warm to people around me, but most importantly, being genuine to myself.

Be as kind as you can be, look at things in a more positive light, and if you have nothing nice to say, just don’t say anything at all.

At the end of the day, only you would know whether what you say and do is being true to who you are.

So, to be honest, how do you show kindness?

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