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I was raised to be a critical thinker and a defender of people. I remember walking in my first protest when I was little. I learned about Cesar Chavez when my dad walked with the strawberry workers. My parents were 70’s hippies, in which they were part of the Peace, Love, and Kick Ass culture. Probably the punk influence coming onto the scene.

Anyway, I speak out. I always have. I’m a non-confrontational person, but I don’t shy away 8272f8d81efbb6ec9acae6e2a861c772from stating my thoughts, particularly in writing. I’ve been called opinionated, which took me a while to accept. I was called judgemental, which I soundly reject. Forceful was recently applied to me and threw me for a loop and I’m still thinking about it. So, yes, I speak my values, but I appreciate when people also state their opinions. I may not agree with them, and I may not appreciate their reasoning, but I appreciate knowing their thoughts on things.

When the Orange Nightmare won, I remember that night, not even following the election results, already knowing he was going to win. I just knew, and was already cool with it. When people were outraged the next morning, I shrugged my shoulders. I sat back and watched friends who had been a-political the entire time I knew them start taking up  the cause, and speaking out, marching, engaging. And, to be honest, I was pretty damn angry.

It took me some time to understand why I was so very angry mixed with big doses of apathy. I spoke into a room full of shoulder-shruggers for so long that I think that when people finally started to stand up and shout, I was exhausted. I was called opinionated and people would ignore me. People were uncomfortable with me because I would say, “wait, let’s examine that thing you just said.” Or when I would say the worst words people don’t want to hear, “I don’t agree with that, because…” So when the bad things I had been trying to point out for years started happening in a way people couldn’t ignore anymore, I kind of just wanted to walk away and say, “Well, you deal with it since you didn’t step up to try to prevent it!”

I realize that is kinda really dumb. Finally the masses have woken and I should join in, but my anger stops me. I still post things I think are important on Facebook and whatnot, but I still hold this ugly little hot coal of anger in my hand. Every new atrocity the Orange Nightmare and his surrogates commit, I have this urge to say, “Maybe if you had said something A LITTLE SOONER!” It’s like being Chicken Little when the sky finally starts falling and everyone is in a damn panic, like they hadn’t been warned over and over again.

I am fully aware that I am being childish and unhelpful. There is a part of me that wants to watch the world burn. The only problem is that I really kinda don’t. So, right now, I am stuck in this limbo of sorta caring, and sorta not. My saving grace may be the scientist. They aren’t supposed to be political and them standing up to protect their facts is something I can fully get behind and love. Because I need to check back in and pick up my saber. Everyone does, after all.

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Cruising through Facebook as I am oft wont to do, I bumped into this video.

I just recently celebrated my birthday and I am sliding into my forties. I’ve been going to school for years. I’ve switched my area of studies so many times, they’ve put a turnstile in the counselors’ office just for me. I’ve been feeling worse and worse about my lack of focus and drive, calling myself all sorts of names. I am so very glad I saw this video. Sometimes you just need to step out of yourself and see what you’re actually doing in a different light. This talk did that for me and now that I don’t see myself as a flighty slacker, I won’t present myself as one.

I hope anyone else who also beats themselves up for finding more than one or two things in life worth your attention and energy will gain something from this video, as well.

Would you say you’re a multipotenialite or kind that always knew what they’re calling was?

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What is wrong with me?

For over a year, I’ve been consciously dealing with a perceived personality flaw. Unconsciously I had been trying to mitigate it for years due to my oldest friend’s behavior around me. A little over a year ago, it was flung into my face by a group of friends who blind-sided me with it. And though it was time for me to move on from that group of friends for other reasons, I still walked away from the ordeal truly examining what was wrong with me. To the point that I became more wary of human interaction and feared ever making new friends.

Then it dawned on me that it was not my flaw, but theirs.

Of course, that is the cry of many people who don’t want to deal with fixing a negative in their personality. But seeing as this flaw attributed to me is seen as a flaw in the public, I can see what has happened.

I am accused of being opinionated. This is thrown in my face by my younger brother. My oldest friend hides things from me, because she doesn’t want to hear my opinion (or already knows it). My old group of friends shoved it in my face, saying that I needed to keep my opinions to myself (even though we had a bi-monthly discussion group).

And here is where everyone has it wrong. Even I had it wrong. Opinionated does not equal judgmental.

I am well-read, enjoy research, and am truly fascinated by my fellow man. I love science. I love music. I love a whole lotta damn things. If I didn’t form opinions on subjects, topics, and thoughts, well then, I’m an idiot. Or possibly a Zen Buddhist. Could you imagine? A college full of brilliant minds and none of them had any of their own thoughts on matters?

Opinionated means I have come to a decision of how I see or feel on certain things. That’s it. If you bring up to me an article on bottle-feeding baby tigers, I will assume we are having a conversation and will therefore bring up my own opinion on it. And then I will pause and wait to hear your opinion on it. If you have a different opinion on the subject, I will think about it, possibly disagree with you, using points and facts I have learned to illustrate why my opinion was formed differently from yours. This is how discussions work. This is how information is passed and how I may learn something new that will change my opinion on the subject.

Now, let me give you an example of how judgement works. My mother was judgmental. She made up her mind on something and only she had the ability to change that opinion. What I or anyone else thought, or any facts we brought forward, were nothing to her. She would denigrate anyone who had a differing opinion than her and would have no qualms about telling them so, or waiting until their back was turned to tell everyone else how stupid she thought them. This behavior is judgmental. This behavior is why I thought “being opinionated” was so bad.  But what my mother did is not what I do. I welcome differing opinions. That isn’t to say I am going to agree with you because I do have my own brain. But that doesn’t automatically qualify you as less-than in my book.

We really can agree to disagree. This is totally ok. This is the issue with my oldest friend. She can’t make decisions. Ever. Everyone who knows her knows this. She often uses me for a sounding board to see what I think she should do. So it isn’t fair that she then hides things from me. It’s not the stuff that she hides that bothers me (I really don’t care if her husband smokes. I don’t live with him.) but it’s the fact that she hides anything at all. I feel close friends should be able to say anything to each other, share secrets, fears, and be safe and secure in the friendship. She clearly doesn’t feel that way because she is threatened by my thoughts on things. If she were to tell me years ago that her new husband smokes, she knows I would have said, “uh oh, you said you’d never marry a smoker. You tell him to smoke outside? Man, that sucks. And you being in the health field and everything.” And if she had replied with, “Yeah, well, I didn’t know he was a social smoker until I was already in love with him,” I would have nodded and said, “Ah, that sucks. Well, is he open to quitting if he only does it socially?” But that conversation never got to take place. Instead she slipped up one time about his smoking and then went on the defensive in such a painfully awkward way, I just smiled and nodded and didn’t say a word, hurt that she continued to hide things from me.

So the weakness in character wasn’t in mine, but in others. They do not feel confident enough in themselves to listen to a differing opinion. Perhaps it’s because I really can site my sources, because I really am well-read, and they may not be. I know that if I don’t have enough information on a topic, my own opinion on it is fairly weak. Which is why I would love to sit down and have a discussion on it so I can learn. However, just because you got your opinion on something off the TV or from a chain email doesn’t mean I’m the jerk for bringing up a differing opinion and being able to support it. Which is where I think I get into trouble. Just as I assume grown-ups are going to have the emotional control and maturity of adults, I also assume someone asserting an opinion on something has actually formed that opinion based on facts or experience. So, if anything, I have the personality flaw of assuming too much. (I am working on it.)

But I am hereby taking back the meaning of “opinionated.” It is not a negative or insult. It just translates to “well-read and thoughtful and eager to have discussions.” Your Uncle John who spouts off on everything political but hasn’t actually read anything and doesn’t want to hear your thoughts on it unless you mirror his? Yeah, he’s judgmental (and possibly stupid). Don’t give him or his kind the honor of being called opinionated.

Okay, now you tell me. Am I off base? Should I put this whole idea away and continue to work on being less opinionated? What do you think? Tell me true. I honestly would love the discussion.

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