I’ve been wrestling with this conundrum since returning from my Thanksgiving trip to Tokyo. I had a great trip with my best friend, met some great people, ate some incredible food, found some trouble to get into, and had a fairly drama free 14 hour flight there and 14 hour flight back. But the city of Tokyo itself, I didn’t love. It was fine, but that was all. I never felt like I caught the vibe or understood its charm the way I have in the other hundreds of cities I’ve been fortunate enough to visit in my travels.
So as I boarded my flight home and my trip came to an end, I thought to myself, “I’m glad I came, I am glad I found the spots in the city that I did, I am glad I met the people I did, but it isn’t a place I feel the need to go back to or will recommend to someone above other locations.”
That thought process has gotten me into verbal battles over the past month since my return. No one wants to hear that it was anything other than the greatest trip I’ve taken. Everyone thinks I must have missed it. It is apparently unacceptable to visit some where and come away with anything other than glowing reviews. Very rarely do you see anything published in the travel media industry telling you the parts of a city they didn’t like, that doesn’t sell ads for the tourism boards they work with, you only hear the good parts.
So, last week at a holiday party, as I listened to another person berate my lack of enthusiasm for Tokyo as a misunderstanding of the grandest proportions, it got me thinking. How frequently do we sugar coat the experiences we’ve had? And why? To keep up the appearances that we’ve never made a choice, invested time and money, committed to a relationship, or taken a chance that hasn’t worked out for our filtered and edited highlight reel of life that we so frequently exclusively share? To get more likes and social media dopamine to reenforce our fragile self esteems?
It is okay if you don’t like something. It is not okay to stick with it if you have the ability to change it. It is not okay to tell people it is great when you know it is not. It is not fair to anyone to keep up the facade in the interest of staying correct. If someone else is considering doing something that they think you liked but in truth you didn’t, you are being unfair to them and their decision making process by not giving them all the truth to consider.
We have the chance to share that truth about all of the things in our lives, with friends and with strangers, and help them understand the whole picture. Withholding the truth in the name of appearances robs them and us of the space to share with pretense and to seek a full understanding.