“Who you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I read something on-line today that included the following poem written by an anonymous wordsmith:
A wise old owl sat in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard
Why can’t we all be like that bird?
I tend to go to either extreme of that wise old bird: I speak a lot or I am silent. I live by the rule “Let your speech be better than your silence; otherwise by silent.” Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem “putting it out there” but sometimes I have nothing to say or maybe nothing nice to say. My momma taught me well, but today, I’m putting it out there.
Do I sometimes say too much and go too far? For sure. Am I opinionated? Totally. Do I think I know it all? Not at all. In fact, there are few things in life I enjoy more than an enlightening and enthusiastic discussion or debate on anything anyone is passionate about. If it’s the silent me you want, start with the small talk and keep it going. I hate small talk. Can’t stand it.
Proverbs 10:19 says “He who restrains his lips is wise” leading one to believe that there is a definite link between wisdom and listening. I agree. As I tell my little preschoolers, “If you’re not listening, you’re not learning.”
I love to learn almost as much as I love to listen to rain while reading a book. I have an insatiable appetite for fun facts and anything interesting. Every year my New Year’s resolution is to learn something new. I don’t like to be criticized though and am the first to admit I have very thin skin. Maybe that’s why a recent comment to something I posted on Facebook got me thinking (and in my best Carrie Bradshaw imitation): “do I speak my mind too much?”
They say it’s easier to express anger or anything negative in the written word rather then face-to-face, making social media the perfect place to do so. A few days ago I shared a post and after several “I agree” comments, I came across one that baffled me. I’m still confused as to what it really meant but I am sure of one thing: it wasn’t complimentary. Considering who it was from was even more hurtful and added weight to the sting I was already feeling. I love and admire the person in so many ways and we have enjoyed a long-time friendship. I’m still not sure what to make of it.
“Preach the gospel, and when necessary use words.” St. Francis
My intent is never to be offensive; I am just really passionate about certain things and enjoy “sharing” them with others. If you don’t agree with them, that’s fine, I am not offended. Many of my friends have belief systems totally in opposition to mine but we are still able to enjoy a civil and fruitful friendship. At the end of the day, I prefer to focus on what holds us together, not what tears us apart. It’s called respect.
How could I, in all honesty, be anything more than honest and upfront considering I’ve forever encouraged my daughter to “speak up?” I must practice what I preach. I’ve preached to not only speak up but to believe in yourself and in what you feel. Obnoxious and rude, no. Mannerly and intelligent, yes.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that eliminating the unnecessary “shoulds” in my life start with “I should care what someone thinks of me.” How refreshing to get rid of trying to please everyone, feeling I have to be sooooo super grateful to everyone and for everything, and striving to meet other people’s expectations rather than my own. I no longer say “yes” when I really want to say “no” and I’ve stopped doing things I actually don’t like but for so long thought I “should” like, so I poured myself into them. My husband loves golf and many of my girlfriends do too, which meant I “should” like golf more than I do. Uh….no. I should spend time with someone I don’t really like all that much. I can’t. Just can’t and won’t.
I also know I can’t fix everything, even though God knows I’ve tried! Not my circus, not my monkeys. Not my problem! I also realize I won’t win every argument or change everyone’s mind or behavior, and that’s okay. I say what’s important to me and agree to disagree or maybe even go as far as “you may be right.” Done. Easy peasy.
Trust me, I’ve taken the class in people pleasing and graduated with honors with a degree in “Disease to Please” in the past, living by the mantra “I’m only okay if you think I’m okay.” That’s the old me though. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be “that” older woman, but I have better things to do then try to win everyone over and care what people think about me. It’s not so much that I don’t care what others think, it’s more that I finally really care about what I think. I am also too old for the drama.
One of my favorite quotes has always been “Be who you are and say what you feel, those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” by Dr. Seuss and amazingly, the older I get the more it rings true. I think Dr. Seuss would be happy to hear this.
Lastly, something very refreshing about speaking your mind is that you don’t carry around those heavy burdens called secrets. Holding onto secrets can be very draining and damaging but letting them out in the open frees the mind and frees the spirit. Just make sure you don’t hurt anyone by doing so.
So, what do to about a Facebook comment? Do I let it eat at me or do I fully digest it and move on to the next course. I think I’ll take a cue from Lou Holtz, who cautioned, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.”