The Prompt: Truth is more important than modesty?

The Prompt 12: Truth versus Modesty

Roald Dahl, tall-story teller extraordinaire, saw truth as being an unbreakable virtue in the writing of the memoirs of his youth; this quote is taken from Boy. It is preceded by the line ‘When writing about oneself, one must strive to be truthful‘.

As someone who now spends a great deal of my time writing, truth and modesty; along with appropriateness, self-censorship, spin, positivity and negativity; are topics I grapple with daily.

When I think of modesty; I weave my way through the minefield of over confidence, boastfulness and arrogance while treading carefully past reticence, constraint and reserve! But, I also struggle with doubt and hesitation; with a terrible worry of being judged.

I have said before that I focus on the positive in this blog. That I have an acute awareness than my audience stretches past bloggers and into my ‘real-life’ friends and family; notwithstanding there are several bloggers who now fall into the friend category :)

But, the longer I blog, the more important finding a balance between spin and sometimes ugly truth becomes. I am always honest on this blog; not because I have to be, because I choose to be; but I am guilty of spin.

There is nothing worse than being presented with an illusion of perfection; where homes are spotless, crafts are perfect, baking delicious and children well behaved and polite at all times. We have enough unrealistic expectations of ourselves without adding to them.

But, I worry that by presenting my happy face to the world, and blogging primarily about the fun stuff and the special moments; about my pride in my children and their successes; about the adventures we have; the crafts and the baking; while skimming over some of the bad stuff (and my very untidy house!), I am not being entirely honest: with my readers, and perhaps more importantly, myself.

I have written about my struggle to rediscover my identity as a SAHM; about the difficulties of being so far away from home; about missing friends and family. But, I rarely have a good old moan about a particularly challenging day with the children, have a rant about something silly that’s annoyed the hell out of me or open up about feeling miserable.

On one level, I don’t want my family to worry about my sad days, about the ones where I am lonely or annoyed or frustrated. On another, more fundamental level, I fear being judged: of doing or saying the wrong thing, of people thinking less of me.

Perhaps that is where I struggle most with modesty; with the reserve and self-effacement that goes hand in hand. I am happy to sing the praises of my children, but I am often reluctant to put myself in the spotlight. Whether that be for my parenting style and choices; my opinions or views; or for my mistakes. I struggle with self-promotion. I resist claiming expertise. I avoid confrontation.

But, I have chosen to open my life to the world in this blog; I chose to start #ThePrompt! I really have no excuse to hide behind my words; to use them as a shield. If I am to write the way I aspire to, then I must find a way to balance the good and the bad; to strive to be truthful even when that truth may not paint me in the best light.

I will however always protect those I love, whether I am writing about them or they are simply reading my words. I will continue to choose carefully, to self-censor; because sometimes truth is not more important.


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36 thoughts on “The Prompt: Truth is more important than modesty?”

  1. Sara – when you read my post you will see that I have trodden almost the same path in analysing this quote! There is a need for honesty to some degree – there is a difference between total spin, portraying a life of domestic goddessery and walking that line between what is both appropriate and allowing your readers to actually get a feeling for you ‘warts and all’. If you’ve ever read Russell Brand’s autobiography Booky Wook – well that really is warts and all – and yet you come away from the read still liking him, understanding what makes him tick and that is what I want to come across on my blog – what makes me tick! But there is a difference between a blog and an autobiography of course. And lets not forget writing about things that interest you and which you think are enjoyable topics for others to read – a lot of that stuff is going to be the more ‘spectacular’ things in life – holidays, outings, celebrations. Happy events. In any event as a blogger and a blog reader I like to get a feeling for someone by how they portray themselves and the way in which they choose to come at life and writing, a level of honesty which allows you to make that judgement – “this person is definitely on my wavelength – I feel we could be friends in real life”. Does that make sense?

    1. I completely agree, can’t wait to read your post! I think we need to make sure that our personality shines through our writing, without necessarily completely exposing ourselves, or more importantly others. I am honest in everything I choose to blog about, but I choose not to blog about some things! And, you’re right, we blog to inform and entertain as well as record and remember, so we need to be mindful of that too. I’m really looking forward to reading this weeks posts, some interesting debate I hope :)

  2. As always Sara, a beautifully written and honest post. I can totally understand your wanting to protect the innocents, it’s a big part of why I write anonymously. I love your blog, please don’t go changing any time soon xx

    1. Oh, thank you lovely x It’s a fine balance; to take care and protect (now and in the future) but still blog with honesty and be engaging and real.

    1. Absolutely, I do find myself editing heavily on occasion; but I don’t want to gloss over reality!

  3. This is a nice prompt. I wrote a long blog entry and its so good but so scandalous so I didnt publish it and linked the one where I am proud of my son =P

    Your post is so honest. I wrote once about self censorship as I am looking for a job. One way or the other my employers to be will stumble upon my blog. Will it be bad to post bad experiences? It wont be balance though but you are right we have to choose words especially if its involves our love ones.

    i hope i make sense

    1. That makes complete sense, and I think it’s something that we all need to be mindful of: we are creating a very definite online presence and unless we blog anonymously, anyone googling us will find it. We have to decide what impression we want to leave.

    1. It is, isn’t it? You want your blog to be an honest reflection and record, but at the same time you know that negativity doesn’t just affect you… It’s a tricky one x

  4. Wonderful post Sara on trying to find the balance between you, your family and your blog writing. Strangely enough I’ve found my blog a way for me to escape some of the realities of life.

    1. That is very true Kriss, I love writing; it’s a real outlet for me, a way to feel creative again and it does help relieve the pressures of a not so great day x

  5. pigeonpairandme

    I agree with you wholoeheartedly on this one! There are so many things that I could write about, but I decide to keep out of my blog. For me, it’s the public face I want to present to a load of strangers – and my children, when they’re a bit older. I’m always very conscious of that.

    1. Thank you x I also think about my children reading it, would they be happy for me to share that? I base a lot of my decisions on that future situation x

  6. Wonderful post and prompt Sara :-) I too have worried that my blog may sound like I’m perfect, living a perfect life which is so not true but then at the same time I want my blog to be positive and uplifting, not depressing for others to read so it is a very fine and difficult line to achieve a balanced snap shot of life.

    1. I understand that wish to be positive and uplifting, it’s making sure it’s ‘real’ that’s the tricky balance isn’t it?

  7. I particularly love your last line: “I will however always protect those I love, whether I am writing about them or they are simply reading my words. I will continue to choose carefully, to self-censor; because sometimes truth is not more important.”
    I do think this is especially pertinent in the blogging world, even more so if you name and/or have photos of the people concerned. Everyone deserves a little appeasement…

    1. Absolutely, any decision we make as bloggers (if not anonymous) affects not just us but those around us x

  8. Beautifully written and engaging post, and such an interesting topic. You are of course completely right, and in a sense in the public milieu of t’internet where friends, family, employers as well as perfect strangers are free to read or see anything we put up (without security or privacy settings) unless we remain completely anonymous, we all face the need for censorship, partly in order to protect others, as well as ourselves. How often do people put pictures of them having a rubbish day on Facebook? It’s always the good, the pretty, the happy. Which of course isn’t real or truthful, but neither is it a lie – it’s just part of the truth as opposed to the whole. Gosh, I hadn’t intended to waffle on this much, I just wanted to say that I agree with you, and love your writing and this post. xxx

    1. Thank you Zaz x You are of course right, that showing the good isn’t a lie even if it might only be a part of the truth. I am very conscious of my online presence, especially in how it may affect those close to me and I do consider carefully anything I write outside the straight forward narratives of a craft or an outing.

  9. Hellie's Corner

    I recently spotted a post on G+ where a few bloggers showed how messy their kitchens were, it made me smile. We don’t all live in a ‘homes and gardens lifestyle’ some of us have fluff on the floor and stuff out all over the place, though that probably doesn’t make great photos!!

    1. Oh, I would have liked to see that! I’m terrible for tidying a ‘space’ so that I can set up crafts or something and then take the photos from the tidy angle :)

  10. Fantastic post and I think your honest here is fantastic. I’m going to be a sahm and even whilst I’m still working full time I’m being judged for my choice to not go back xx

    1. Thank you; we are surrounded by judgement aren’t we, it’s hard to ignore it even when we know we should x

  11. Beautifully written.
    Professionally, I am always surprised by some people’s ability to self promote, versus others- rarely either reflective of a person’s real ability.
    I think where life and parenting is concerned, it can be difficult to be honest, because so much of turning a situation around, for me, is to think positively and not dwell, but as far as my home is concerned- there is always a pile of laundry in the background and a trail of toys for added character!
    I think, I hope, being true to yourself is the key regardless. x

    1. Thank you x I would have to agree with you re self promotion :) And, I think I’m very like you, I look to the positive as that’s the best way through things. As for the house, I choose my camera angles carefully :)

  12. I think truth is very important but so is keeping our privacy… sometimes the choices are hard. There is so much I would love to share but I can’t… I have to keep a lot in hiding and it makes things very complicated sometimes :-(

  13. Caroline (Becoming a SAHM)

    Really interesting post and something I’ve thought a lot about. Honesty in my blog is really important to me as i don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not or totally leave any negative feelings out… But, of course it’s not the whole story, some things aren’t for public entertainment and absolutely should remain private. I also try to keep relevant so there are things that go on sometimes, or things from my past that aren’t relevant to my blog or my life now, so I don’t blog about them. It is a tricky balance though and sometimes I have to ask hubby what his thoughts are about a post, as it’s about his life as much as mine and I would never want to publish something he isn’t happy for the world to know about. #brillblogposts

  14. Such a wonderfully, thought provoking and candid post, we all self edit and censor to protect ourselves, kids and to create a happy life in fear of judgement. I try and write honestly and about themes/issues that are important to me. I actually blogged about the pressures of perfect parenting and how admitting times are tough make for a more supportive dialogue. It’s tough at times but reaching out and admitting times are hard have helped me: Thanks for linking up such a wonderful post #brilliantblogposts

    1. Thank you x I think you’re right, and I have found huge support when I’ve blogged about tough times. Heading over to read your post now x

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