A question of integrity
By Vikki Roylance
Merriam-Webster, an online dictionary publisher,
announced that the most looked up word for 2005 was integrity.
Hardly surprising considering the world news and events over the
previous 12 months, but I still found it somewhat comforting. Amongst
all the corruption, tragedy and scandal, people were searching for
something true, something genuine.
But what is integrity? Merriam-Webster states it is firm adherence
to a code of especially moral or artistic values. Another
dictionary describes it as steadfast adherence to a moral
or artistic code. Great words but what does that mean in reality?
The word integrity is a noun, and for those of us who
needed to pay more attention in English language class, a noun can
be a person, place, thing, name, quality or action. But what is
integrity, a quality or an action
A couple of weeks before New Years Day I met another writer
for lunch. She is very well respected and talented. I was feeling
anxious about meeting her, convinced I would make a fool of myself.
I must confess to being a bit of a Bridget Jones, secretly
convinced that I will be found out for the fool that
I really am.
I showed up casually dressed having just finished teaching 30 minutes
before. Thankfully she was attired to a similar level of formality.
Conversation was a little strained at first but once the food arrived
we relaxed and started talking. Happy to help me, she gave me a
to-do list that would further my writing career.
I was instructed to wear a suit, wear low heels, lose weight, get
braces (typical Brit), cut my hair and dye it blond, read some self
help books that would help me to shed some of this Bridget flailing
stuff that happens sometimes in meetings. The list was endless and
to my amazement, I wasnt offended in the slightest. Truth
was, I was mortified. I sat across the table from her and realized
I didnt want to lose weight or dye my hair or read books called
Principles of Success. I like myself just the way I
Later that day I e-mailed some editors of magazines I wanted to
write for and two of them got back to me within 24 hours to arrange
meetings for later that week. I was in complete conflict; did I
don the suit, the heels and the power haircut? Or did I just go
as myself? I am a casual gal at heart, happiest with clear skin,
natural hair and in a venue that allows me to wear jeans without
Twenty minutes before I had to get into a taxi, I sent the first
editor an SMS asking if he would mind if I ditched the suit, left
my hair down and came in my jeans. He responded that he really didnt
care. I went to all those meetings relaxed and casual. Every meeting
It was more of a personal victory than a professional one. I realized
how far I would go to make it in the writing industry.
Eighteen-hour days I can handle. Sending e-mails every day is OK.
Constantly attending meetings with editors isnt a problem.
But serving myself up on a plate in pursuit of success is just going
too far. I am who I am and I wont compromise that. It is,
after all, a question of integrity.
As 2006 begins I cannot help but wonder, what will be the
word of 2006? I am hoping for character. Definition:
the attributes and features that make up an individual.
Now that is something worth celebrating.
(The author works in education and is a freelance writer for various