In school and college I was told that Honesty is the best policy, and was taught, cajoled, admonished, and encouraged to be honest. I was deeply disappointed with myself for not being able to remain honest even in small ways, and often tried to turn a new leaf with resolutions every year!! In fact it is really difficult to remain completely honest throughout school, college and work life!!
As I grew up I realised that whether or not we decide to be honest to others, we will never find true happiness unless we are completely honest to ourselves. Thankfully, I have always been honest to myself, and in fact at times I have several conversations with myself through the day! I cannot (in all honesty) take credit for consciously choosing to be truthful to myself, it happened somewhere on the way while struggling with my (sometimes) untruthfulness towards others.
Honesty towards our self starts with the acknowledgement that our life is our own and that we are in every way responsible for the decisions we take. Yes, fate might decide the obstacles you face, parents and decision makers may interfere with the path you wish to take, calamities might land in your plate more often than in others’, but how you react to any of these will ultimately decide the shape of your life.
While people around you are influencing your life, remember that you, the family and society are influencing theirs. Some of their actions (obviously not all), towards you might be a reaction to what they observe in you. Whatever fate and people dole out to you, you do have an ability to create a positive influence on your life, and on those around you.
We are very easily influenced by powerful people around us: friends, peers, parents, teachers, icons, bosses, etc. Many times we lead ourselves to believe that their words are our words, their life is what we want ours to be, their goals and dreams can be ours. In fact their influence on our life might control small things we do like our words, actions, the clothes we wear etc., as well as larger aspects of our life like education, career, etc. This of course might make our life seem easy, because all we need to do is follow them and we find a path to walk on. But our life is our own, and its challenges and opportunities are also unique: somewhere on the road (sooner than later), there comes an obstacle or an opening made only for one person, the other goes on in another direction!
If decisions we make turn out to be wrong, we can make a positive change if we first accept that the decision was ours: We choose our path not only by selection, we also decide by choosing not to object. It also makes our life easy if we have someone (or something) else to blame for the decisions we made. But this does not lead to contentment. Standing by each small decision we make, and guiding our life with grace and strength gives a joy and fulfilment that is difficult to describe.
It is obviously difficult at times, as it involves standing up for yourself, disagreeing with others, and sometimes a little loneliness and fear. But the personal integrity that you develop ultimately leads to deep satisfaction. Making your own decisions of course need not be confused with defiance and obstinacy. It is OK to walk with others without necessarily choosing their path. But recognising that which is individual to you, and staying true to it, is the essence of honesty.