Truth. It’s Complicated by Lauren Simonds

lauren-simonds-speaker-sisterhoodThis is the transcript of a speech on truth given by Lauren Simonds, a member of the Speaker Sisterhood Club in Northampton and the Speaker Sisterhood social media team. Want to tell your story? Check out a club or start your own.

Most of us, having grown up in a civil society, were taught to tell the truth — as if there is only one truth to tell. I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Anyone who’s watched episodes of Perry Mason or Law and Order knows that line.

But if you look in the eye of the beholder, you’ll find truth cuddled up right next to beauty.

Now, those courtroom dramas would also have us believe that truth is immutable. But it’s not. Truth is a sneaky little shapeshifter. To illustrate, let me share a simple truth about myself.

My mother first fed me eggs when I was 6 months old, and I spit that nastiness right back at her. At breakfast, I’d barricade myself behind cereal boxes so I wouldn’t have to look at runny egg yolks.

My disgust for eggs was so woven into my family’s tapestry that I once called my sister — who was living in Saudi Arabia at the time — at 3 am — at a dollar a minute — just to announce that I had eaten a hardboiled egg. Her response? Who are you and what have you done with my sister?

This was not merely a case of a child’s limited palate. I passionately hated certain foods deep into adulthood. Coffee, broccoli, beets, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, or any kind of fish — unless it was breaded, deep fried and swimming in tartar sauce.

To this day I don’t know why, but in my 40s that all changed. Like that [snap]. Coffee? Yum. Eggs? Yeah, baby! Fried Brussel sprouts? Who knew? The change was fast. It was shocking. And, quite frankly, a bit worrisome. At the rate I was going, I’d be smoking cigarettes and sleeping with men in no time.

You’ve probably heard the expression that change is the only constant in life, right? We can thank a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus for that. Yup. Her-a-clit-us.

Yes, I’m pronouncing it wrong and no, I don’t care.

And we should all be grateful that what’s true for a person can and does change over the course of a lifetime.

But we all have core truths — innate characteristics or deeply held values — that don’t change. The things that make us who we are. For example, I will never smoke cigarettes, and the men here in the 413 can all rest easy: I will not be chasing them.

Our core truths can be noble and inspiring, or they can be messy and complicated. Others can be crippling.

OK, so I started out by sharing one of my simple truths. Here’s one that’s a bit more complicated.

I am an extrovert with an inferiority complex. It’s quite a dichotomy, let me tell you.

How does this play out?

My engaging and upbeat demeanor masks an almost paralyzing fear that I am not …enough. Talented enough. Skilled enough. Capable enough.

I look at an artist or listen to a musician and, because I don’t have that talent, I am less than. I look at an entrepreneur or a CEO and because I don’t have that ambition, I am lacking.

Here’s the kicker. I’m an extrovert and words come easily to me…but I don’t recognize that as a valuable skill.

Every other writer is better, and no one wants to hire me. Says the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad voice in my head — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. External praise cannot fill this empty vessel.

This has been a life-long struggle, and it’s in full bloom as I look for work. And I really get in the way of finding me a job.

So, the question I ask myself is this: what’s the difference between an immutable core truth and a limiting belief? I’ve read Louise Hay, I’ve worshipped at the altar of Brene Brown. Does the answer simply lie the eye of this beholder? Is there room for inferiority to snuggle up with beauty and truth?

As I wrestle with these questions, I remind myself that many of my truths have changed over time. Is it too much to hope that inferiority might someday join the ranks of eggs and coffee? Thank you.

Lauren Simonds is a former paramedic, a Smith College graduate, an award-winning small business tech journalist, and she currently works as a freelance writer and editor. After years of writing for other people (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Lauren joined a Speaker Sisterhood club to find and reawaken her own voice. It’s a grand adventure, and she’s thrilled to join the Speaker Sisterhood team and help other women begin their own unique journey.

WHMP celebrates Women’s History Month in a series of women speaking their truth, produced by WHMP News Director Denise Vozella, who leads a speaking club for women in Northampton, as part of the Speaker Sisterhood. The Speaker Sisterhood provides a community to women who want to discover, awaken, and create their voice through the art of public speaking.