I’ve always had strong opinions. Most of the time, I keep the locked away, rumbling around like caged prisoners in padded cells. Being a typical INFJ, I revert to my private, natural quietness until I get to know you, and be warned…I may not filter all of those opinions, quirky thoughts, or hey, this is so cool as often (unless there are Mojitos or wine and that’s whole other blog post).But if I simply stated WHY I don’t share my thoughts, sit there smiling, more content to listen, it would be this:
I don’t want my loud voice, my opinions to hurt your feelings.
Somehow, I got it wrapped in my brain that if friends, whether online or in real life, had to like everything that the other was in to. Total crap. Hell, I even spend extra time and energy telling my kids that they don’t have to like everything their little friends like. Your friends don’t like country music, that’s cool. You don’t want to read the Harry Potter books, fine read something else.
For my own friends, I will listen to the recaps of reality shows I don’t watch. Quite frankly, if I wanted to see cat fights and backstabbing, I would have stayed teaching middle schoolers. But I listen and nod at the proper times. That’s what good friends do, right? Now, I won’t mind if you don’t like the same books, same TV shows, etc. That’s fine. I love your strong opinions, but it is far easier to quiet my loud voice than hurt your feelings. Even on diddly things like books and TV shows.
Why? I effing suck at giving myself the same level of grace that I’ll give you.
Part of learning radical self-care has meant stating how I truly feel about something relatively innocuous (although, people do have strong feelings toward Gone, Girl and A Prayer for Owen Meany). I’m perfectly justified in NOT liking Dancing with the Stars or Arrested Development. I tried so hard on AD, but sorry, it’s not for me. Neither is The Office. Or pretty much, most of the comedies on NBC.
And I hope you and me are still cool as my voice gets louder, stronger, kinder. If I insert more of myself into the conversation, then I did before. I’ll still listen. I promise. But I need to remember how to speak out my words, my joys and fears. I need to remember what my voice sounded like before fear hit the mute button.