Over thirty years ago, I was still married to my first husband and Brian, our son, was teeny tiny. One Saturday night, we decided to invite his parents over for dinner. We went all out considering our miniscule income: steaks and potatoes with all the trimmings, cheesecake. Thirty minutes before the scheduled arrival, we were scurrying to make sure everything was tidy. My husband darted into the kitchen almost frantic, telling me to hide the beer because his parents would not approve.
Keep in mind – married, father, over 21. At what point did he need to stop worrying about his parent’s approval?
We all seek some sort of approval, don’t we? But should we?
I don’t know what you are reading and it’s none of my business. Would you lie about it? Sitting in my book club a few weeks ago, the participants in the began discussing the next selection. In the way these things go, Fifty Shades of Grey was mentioned. This book is not on our list of choices, so I have no idea how it came up. Everyone acted as if they would never read “such filth”.
Everyone but me, that is. I read ‘em, I own ‘em, I enjoyed them for a variety of reasons. I am 56 years old. I think I’m at a point where I can read what I damn well please. I wish you could have seen some of the faces when I said, “I’ve read them, and I just bought the latest installment. And I like menage books too.” I might be asked to step down as king of the book club.
As the get together was winding down, two of the women snuck over to me and said, “Well, we read Fifty Shades and we liked it too.” I’m not sure the motive for this admission. Hopefully, it wasn’t to make me feel less embarrassed. I wasn’t embarrassed. I refuse to be embarrassed about what I read or watch or drink or eat or how I dress or even my often-foul language.
The bigger question for me was why did these lovely women feel the need to pretend? They could have remained quiet but instead they effectively lied.
And, of course, that question drove me to ponder the areas I might pretend when I should not.
While I don’t think we need to or should go around with a bullhorn announcing our hobbies and habits, I do want to be a person who, when asked, is honest. I do want to be a person who, when it makes sense to be upfront, is upfront. I would like to be the type of person who makes others feel comfortable liking what they like.
There’s a saying: Your Opinion of Me is None of My Business.
I’d add this: I have no right to judge your choices.
According to the dictionary, an opinion is a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty.
We all have personal beliefs. I believe thin tortilla chips are better than thick ones. I believe people are basically good and that it is too damn hot right now.
My issue is not with personal beliefs. My issue is with the other part of the definition: judgments.
You can believe Fifty Shades of Grey is crap. But you are not allowed to judge me for disagreeing. We can even respectfully debate the merits of the book. But it is not anyone’s place to tell us we are wrong. Opinions, by definition, are not wrong because there is no proof or certainty.
I can, and you can, decide not to engage in a debate. I can hold my beliefs; you can hold your beliefs; and there is no requirement we have any type of meeting of the minds. I can go my merry way liking Christian and Ana and you can go your merry way finding the entire idea repulsive. But that shouldn’t kill our friendship, should it?
I think one of the reasons we are reluctant to share some of our more interesting habits and hobbies is that we worry who will turn away from us. Rejection is tough. But do I want someone in my life who will reject me because of the books I read or the movies I see or because I hate bras?
I know what you’re thinking: “But I can’t be friends with some who likes X.” Okay, then don’t be friends. However, I hope to encourage you to think more deeply when you are cutting someone out of your life over an opinion. If I can’t like you because of a difference of an opinion, that’s more about my judgments than your choices.
I’ve gotten on a rambling soapbox. Allow me the chance to rein this back in: As long as you are not hurting anyone, doing something illegal or clearly immoral, then you should feel comfortable and safe enough to own it. If you don’t feel that safety, try to understand why. If you are unwilling to own it, then you might want to consider if you should be doing it.
I decided to rap this up by sharing what I’ve read in the last few weeks knowing many of you will be appalled. You are allowed to be appalled – but remember, I haven’t asked you to read any of these and what I read on my couch in my house is for me to decide. Agreed?
Now that you've seen my bookshelf, can we still be friends?
Do you have an opinion about what someone does that you should release? Are you worried about someone’s opinion about your hobbies and habits? Can you let that go too and just be you?
Copyright 2023 June Converse, All Rights Reserved.
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