Oh, how I love returning to the land of okra and mountains! Yes, I have returned to my Tennessee mountain home for Christmas and I am enjoying all of the comforts of my hometown. Familiar restaurants, familiar shops, familiar family, and familiar friends... they are all just comfortable and lovely.
I was at dinner the other night with some of those familiar friends, enjoying some delicious Southern food and some wonderful company. We were chatting about our lives afterwards and my friend Kayla mentioned that she loves to give her friend a topic and tell her to "soapbox" it. "You know," she said, "Like Frankie does." Everyone laughed in agreement. I kind of looked around and laughed. I know that I do have opinions- and that I express them. They gave me some topic and told me to soapbox it, but I didn't have any strong feelings about it.
Then the movie "Anonymous" came up. And my soapbox came out. And we all laughed and shook our heads and agreed that I would never change.
It got me thinking about all the times in my life that expressing my opinion honestly has gotten me in trouble or caused tension in relationships or generally made life unpleasant. Believing your opinion is a fact is a tragic familial trait. It's also something that I've gotten much better about as I've grown up. I have a strong sense of black, white, and gray- I always have. The problem used to be that I would mislabel my grays as blacks or whites. These days, I think I'm much better about placing things in their proper tonal value. (Yes, for those who are wondering, I am a big, fat "J" in Myers-Briggs)
That doesn't change the fact that I still have strong feelings about the grays. Nowadays, people do respect me for being opinionated. They generally like that I know my own mind, which is an upgrade from my earlier days. I can't help but wonder, though, if people would tell me if they had a different opinion. Sometimes they do - but if they don't, is it because they don't have one? Or that they just don't want to verbalize it? Or that I intimidate them out of verbalizing it? Any of these states are largely foreign to me. I have moments when I don't really have an opinion on something or that I decide to hold my peace to keep the peace. Honestly, though, those moments are few and far between. I don't want to be someone that people feel like they can't talk to, but I also don't know how to be someone who isn't honest about what they think or know to be true. People say that they love that about me, but they also avoid me sometimes, because they know I'm not going to bullshit them.
What is it like to not have opinions on things? What is it like to not express them? I can't imagine a mindset like this. I know they exist. I don't understand it. I wish that I could understand it a bit more, but I just don't. I know that it probably makes me less feminine or desirable or whatever - this I've heard. Maybe it means I should keep my mouth shut and just agree with people. But would I really want to be friends or romantic with someone who I had to watch myself with all the time? Probably not.
I don't know. Should I want to be able to shut my mouth? Probably. I don't really have an ending for this... all I can say is that being opinionated and outspoken is a big part of my personality, one that I don't know how to cover up or minimize. I can and have learned to be more kind with that part of me. It will always be there, though, whether or not I like it, so I guess I need to keep learning how to understand people who have different personalities and how to deal gently with people regardless.
Opinions = fine. Being a jerk = lame sauce. Frankie = constantly learning how to be opinionated without being a jerk.
Have you ever put your foot in your mouth and kind of liked it?