“Do you like Hanson?” they asked, enthusiastically. I didn’t know what to say. The truth was that I didn’t like Hanson, but these were the only other two boys in the class and they seemed to like Hanson a lot. How could I possibly risk social suicide by not pretending to like their favorite band?
After a moment, I made up my mind and said, “Yeah. I like Hanson.” I regretted this statement immediately.
The boys started laughing as though I had just confessed something humiliating. “Ew, you like Hanson?” they mocked. It had been a trap; these boys didn’t like Hanson at all! I quickly tried to backpedal and said, “Oh, Hanson? I don’t like Hanson.” But it was too late. I had already said I liked Hanson, so nothing else mattered. They laughed for a good five minutes at my misfortune and then proceeded to ridicule me for the next two months for my bad taste in music.
I know, kids are cruel. And twisted. Why would they set me up like that? But even then I knew how moronic they were being. If I had liked Hanson, I probably wouldn’t have minded as much. I’d think, “So what? At least I still have MMMBop.” And to be honest, I genuinely enjoy some really bad music, but that’s never bothered me. The reason that the Hanson fiasco still haunts me to this day is the fact that I had sold myself out to fit in, and they caught me.
In that same class, we studied “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” I think you see where I’m going with this. It’s amazing how often we forget the deceptively simple moral of that story. When confronted about my stance on Hanson, I learned that speaking your truth is much harder in real life than in fairy tales. This is just as true for adults as it is for children, if not more. All too often, I see groups of people going along with something that no one really likes simply because they assume that everyone else is on board. But if everyone’s afraid to rock the boat, then the boat’s going to keep going in the same direction that nobody wants.
So whenever possible, speak your truth. This is one of the five beliefs at sr4, as it helps to draw the best ideas out of everyone. At the same time, it’s important to create a safe environment for others to speak their truth. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck with a bunch of faux Hanson-groupies; and does anyone truly want that?