Dianna Herrera-Goudeau ‘20
I want to begin by saying that I have a strong distaste for self-help presentations of any kind. It can be some talk by an award-winning doctor, or some peers sharing their tips to “living a better you.” Something about that puts a bad taste in my mouth and immediately has me feeling as if I could spend what felt like six hours of my life in dozens of better ways. That’s what I thought “What’s Your Big Lie” was going to be like. I went in prepared to roll my eyes and walk out without feeling any different. I was wrong.
Jordan Axani’s presentation on the lies that everyone carries around opened my eyes to the lies that I tell to protect myself but are really pulling me down. Axani opened his presentation by talking about his background, which was a real story of pain and an attempt to heal. He showed real emotion and invited the audience to take part in the rest of the presentation. The concept of telling your big lie is simple but has rippling effects in seeing that you’re not alone, and taking that by turning it into a form of healing, not just for yourself but for those around you. Axani showed, through his anecdotes, that going through his journey as a presenter was changing him for the better.
The presentation had a simple structure: Axani talked about his journey, and the audience was asked to share their lies via anonymous messages online, which were then shared. There wasn’t any fanfare or razzle dazzle, and for the better. It was tailored to the audience, relying on where the audience wanted to go from the first question and basing the rest of the time on what the audience wanted to do.
The atmosphere of Weinstein Auditorium was pensive and painful. There were tears and laughter and a feeling of solidarity when those statements were silently read off the screen. It was beautiful. I left feeling almost debilitatingly sad, realizing what my big lie was and what I have been telling myself and those around me in hopes of acceptance and healing. “What’s Your Big Lie” was a great presentation because it wasn’t anything more or less than what was promised — an opportunity to reveal your big lie and to realize that you’re not alone.
Axani ended with three truths, and the last one has left a mark on me, which was, “we are all liars.” I felt changed and realized that I am not alone and that there is a way to move forward. I would like to thank Kris Mereigh for bringing this presentation to Smith and for the entirety of the Engaging Identity series, of which it was a part.