Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One. Loud. Mouth.

I’ve pissed off a good many people simply by saying what I think. Sadly, or not, I have no filter. Well, sort of, I do, but it’s old and worn and most thoughts slip right through. I have offended family, shocked strangers, and lost friends because of the words that I have spoken. It is the losing friends part that bothers me most. I don’t much mind about the rest.

I was sent to see the principal my senior year of high school. I gave my French teacher a long held back opinion of her teaching style. I may have stood up and commanded presence while doing so. I may have stolen the floor, undermined her authority. I may have been a bit disrespectful. I may have. The facts are blurry and somewhat uncertain. What is clear is that I found her practices unfair toward certain students. I found her classroom unjust and a confrontational learning environment. I let her know this. I wasn’t sure she was aware. I don’t really remember much about the incident except my burning indignation at the fact that the only time I got sent to the office in twelve years was for speaking my mind. Free speech, my foot.

The problem is that I never seem to know when speaking my mind is a good thing, beneficial to myself or others, and when it is just something I should refrain from doing.

If I were granted a superpower, I would choose the ability to read minds. If I could see what was in a person’s head, then maybe I could rein in my thoughts a bit to avoid hurt feelings, anger, or shutting down. Maybe. How much of who we are is the image others have of us, the expectations they set? A friend began a question the other day, “If it weren’t for societal influence…” The rest of the question was moot. Nothing is without societal influence. I don’t exist independent of others. And yet, I just can’t seem to focus my thoughts in a constructive direction. They go this way or that with no real sense of purpose. They seem to have a mind of their own.

I am just antagonistic enough, too, to get a secret kick out of stirring the verbal pot. Sometimes I say a thing just to see the reaction it will get.

I remember learning in school of the term “devil’s advocate.” At first I didn’t get it. Why would someone debate my argument when I am obviously correct? I have the facts. I know how they play out in this story. Somebody explain the need for this “suggesting that I am wrong” business. But once I got it, I always wanted to be the devil. To this day, I stock a good supply of pitchforks and horns.

It is when my words get me into trouble with friends that I am saddened. Let’s first, though, qualify that. It may sound harsh, but I am not about mollycoddling. If you are not interested in hearing my opinion, get out of the room because I will offer it. If you are looking for someone to metaphorically hold your hand, to assuage your doubts with falsehoods that are soft and gentle and easy on the soul, but that are essentially a load of crap, then I am not your girl. If, however, you want to know what you are looking to know, if you want a straightforward, honest, well thought out, but up front opinion, I will tell you. I will tell you in the most delicate manner possible, but I will tell you. Scratch that. I usually just shoot my words straight from the hip. Delicate be damned. If you are not the sort of friend who can handle this, it’s been wonderful crossing paths. I wish you well in your life. Needless to say, I do not have a huge number of close friends.

Sometimes, though, I share things I shouldn’t. I am a bit more open than need be concerning facts and feelings that are in my head. I lose the line between you and me. I show you more than you want to know. This, too, has lost me a friend or few. After such a loss, I find myself asking, Why was this person in my life? What do I have to learn from this? What did this person contribute to my world? What did I contribute to hers? If it is true what they say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, or in this case, you never get a do-over on what could have been a great friendship, I am thinking that maybe I need to occasionally set aside my horns and pitchforks, stop off at Target for a new and improved filter for my thoughts, and find me a hero in red Spandex who can grant me some of those mind-reading superpowers.

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