It's no easy thing to be opinionated. Let me tell you! ;) Really though, being the contrarian when no one else from your camp is talking, is rough. Not only in the battle of words, but in the aftermath of it all as well. Though I have worked to suppress them, thoughts like, "I hate myself! I am so stupid! I can't believe I said that!" almost always make an appearance in the after-assessment any time I have spoken my thoughts aloud. Because well, opinions are generally controversial. They make people uncomfortable. They present a challenge or obstacle to the way people think, live, act, exist . . . One that they have to come to terms with through soul-searching, more education, more thinking, and sometimes changes to their beliefs or behavior, etc. to be able to go on living in the undisturbed way they were living before. And if they choose not to engage in thinking during the discussion that will lead them to soul-searching, more education or change - well, then they tend to just feel unkindly or annoyed toward the messenger (me.) So, not only do I have a battered brain and heart from tossing around opinions inside myself, I am also a target for negative feelings, and the cause of unrest and conflict in my fellow conversationalists. My challenging aloud causes others conflict that they were very often happy not feeling before I opened my loud mouth.
But, we live in a world where some of the loudest voices are the most ill-informed. Where the most valued principles of our falling society are against all common sense, decency, morality, reason and freedom. And those voices are so loud and busy calling names that the best solutions, ideas, stories, and principles are too often silenced. That silence of the truth and common sense emboldens and enlivens me more than any fear of retaliation for having spoken my piece. In the battlefield of ideas, I may lose - but to have given up before I had ever tried, would be the most devastating of all.
And so, I speak. While I have found that being opinionated and speaking up is too much a part of my nature to change, I am working to better incorporate the art of tact in expressing myself. Which is my trademark failing - especially when I really really care about the person. When things get ugly, I remind myself again of my mother's best marriage advice for me, "It's more important that your spouse feels loved, than that you are right." This is for marriage, but it also applies to friends. And our enemies? Well they could probably use a little love too. I'll add the caveat to this frilly paragraph, that I believe that love can sometimes feel tough with its honesty and sincerity. ;) But love or at least simple compassion should always be involved in our opinion-sharing, should it not? Otherwise, the biggest truth of any message shared is tarnished and somewhat flat.
Being opinionated does have its positives though. My favorite and very best friends are mine because I speak up. Some of them are loud like me, but many more are quiet. My husband is a quiet one, for example. :) But each of them knows they can come to me for an honest, open and bold place to discuss and explore - be it a political, social, moral, religious or personal issue.
Though I am a Stay-at-home-Mom, discussion need never get stuck at the stagnate level of the cheerios in the bottom of my son's car seat around me. With friends I can trust, and even sometimes with a stranger in the parking lot with a bold bumper sticker, the conversations I find myself involved in, are often filled with twists, turns, questions, answers, and passion.
The opinionated person does not live a comfortable life, but she does at least speak, hear, and engage in a very interesting and passionate one.