“Give me a piece of your mind”

My parents are honest people with strong opinions for which they sometimes need loud words.

Even now that they have grandkids, I have seen them explaining matters of the world in a way some others may feel is not appropriate for such young kids. Some kids dig it and others zone out when being spoken to in this manner, but I always thought it was kind of cool that my dad never “dumbed things down” for me.

A request I got from my father on several occasions (and far too often, as far as I was concerned at the time) was “give me a piece of your mind”.  You can imagine it was something he did to get a sense of what his sulky adolescent daughter might be thinking. I never really knew what he meant and my answer never seemed to be what he was hoping to hear anyhow.

You could say honesty was valued highly in our household. And to express your honest opinions it was required to be eloquent. “Just because” was never a valid explanation for anything and I was allowed (up to a certain extent) to expect the same from them.

I remember my first boyfriend was quite overwhelmed by the in depth conversations we had over dinner.

The biggest liar and most truthful person, all in one

A line that I wrote down in my “ideas journal” the other day, is that my father is “one of the most honest people I know, as well as one of the least”.

He is one of the most honest because he doesn’t seem afraid to have an uncommon opinion. He will stand up for his beliefs, at the cost of being “the odd one” in a crowd. He is also unwillingly honest, as his face just gives away what he thinks about you and your explanation.

At the same time, he is one of the least honest people I know because as much as he tries to uphold the idea that he doesn’t care what others think of him, his fear of appearing to be weak always wins. He will say everything is going splendidly and that he has never felt better, until he reaches the point that the only one buying it is him.

Then again, does it count as lying if he lied to himself about it first?

Also, his stubbornness sometimes reaches truly absurd levels. He will stay on a chosen course even after being disproved by someone. Adjusting your course would be admitting you were wrong at some point and that apparently is not an option in his world.

He can also be very arrogant, in the sense that he will easily discard your idea as a lesser opinion if it is not in line with his. And not only is the opinion of low quality, so are you for coming up with it. He will use big, aggressive words to make you feel unsure about your line of thought, and make you back down. You might even accept his own idea at some point, just because he presents it with so much self confidence.

Intellectual & Emotional Honesty

What I figured out only recently is that the type of honesty I was taught to express was purely intellectual. That is the type of honesty that researchers and journalists apply in their work. It is the type of honesty that is based on logic, historical facts, knowledge, vocabulary and grammar.

This type of intellectual honesty is something that comes natural to me. I have never had trouble forming my opinion or pointing out to someone when they set off my bullshit radar and why.

Apparently the invisible, irrational, uncontrollable concepts of feelings are something you can be honest about too… You apparently don’t even need words to express them! Mind. Blown. And when it comes to being honest about those, I suck. I wonder why?

A child’s tears

This brings me to the final clue to my father’s dishonesty; he has never been able to handle my tears.

…Not that I even know how to cry anymore…

Unless some plant or tree is in bloom, or something.

And there’s some snot involved during these pollen allergies, as well.

But maybe they don’t actually qualify as tears.

Anyhoooooowww, see how awkward I get from talking about these things??

…where were we?

Ah yes, me crying.

Far before I reached an age that this was reasonable for, I was expected to be able to explain my behavior, especially when my behavior included tears. If I couldn’t come up with a “good” reason for my eye leakage, I was simply asked to stop doing that. And so I did.

All though my father told me years later that the crying prohibition was one of the few things he regretted in life, it did teach me to express myself pretty well. I know what I want and don’t want and am more capable than many others to express where my boundaries lie.

After analyzing the heck out of it during my long train ride home last week I came to a new theory. He saw my tears as criticism. Honest little wet mirrors rolling down a child’s cheek. And he couldn’t deal with that.

Time for a new lesson

Don’t get me wrong. My childhood was actually pretty awesome. Part of it was thanks to my parents, other parts were great despite of them. I hold no grudges. Or I try not to.

I am definitely thankful towards my parents for giving me the ability to discuss every possible topic, be it social, political or cultural in any crowd. When it comes to other forms of honesty however, I think I may have a lesson or two for them.

Advertisements

Doubters alert

The Daily Post suggested an interesting topic to write about last week, titled: “Doubters Alert.”

It took me a couple of days, but I have decided to turn it into a list (again).

All though the items are numbered, the order is actually completely arbitrary. The numbering only helped me keep track of how far along I was and I guess I just like how it makes it look more listy. So, I hereby present you with my top ten denials of common accepted truths.

1. Men and women are equal
They’re not. Do I believe men and women should be given equal chances? Hell yes! I also agree that this isn’t always the case and I’m sure there are women with big ambitions who are held back because of their gender. The fact that more women choose a career as nurses and more men become firefighters however, is not because the opposite sex is being discriminated against. These career choices make biological sense. Don’t make me explain, I know you get it.

2. Disciplining your child is wrong
You’re right, I don’t have kids of my own but I don’t think it makes me any less credible. Even more, my observations are less likely to be tainted by emotions, instinctual protection hormones and unconditional love. I actually see that your kid is sneaky and that you are being played like a fool. I also see that not all kids are like that and that your parenting is to blame.
Loving your child and setting boundaries are not contradictory actions. I believe kids need to be shown right from wrong. I also believe they can cope with hard truths of life at quite an early age and that consequences of bad behavior must be in place. These consequences need to be clear, fair and unnegotiable. They also need to be unpleasant in order to be taken serious by the grown-up-in-training.

3. Praying helps
prayer-purposeI do not believe in prayer, unless it’s just to meditate and self reflect. If there is such a thing as a god I can’t imagine he (let’s just refer to this god-figure as a he from here on , for practicality, but you can read it as she if you prefer) needs people telling him how almighty he is. I also simply can not accept the idea that he would be such a fool that he would grant some ass wipe who prays daily access to his super cool heaven club and deny it to someone who is clearly an awesome person, but doesn’t mumble some words several times a day.

4. Self prescribed diets
I believe in moderation. Too much of anything can become a bad thing and it may differ from person what “too much” is. I’m going to sound like an old sock now, but in this day and age I think a lot of people are blaming nutrition for physical complaints that are actually caused by stress. I believe some types of foods are easier to digest than others but I don’t believe this means we are not supposed to eat the stuff that makes our intestines work hard. I believe it keeps them vital and yes, this means that sometimes you will fart more and the color and smell of your poo may vary.

If you’re on a diet on doctor’s orders: different story all together, obviously…

5. Giving money to the homeless is a bad idea
homeless handThere are many reasons why a person could end up living on the streets, all though mental illness and drug dependency will often play a roll. I know there is a big chance the money I put in the hand of that smelly figure in rags will go into sustaining a drug habit. Call me an enabler. I don’t believe that denying that person the couple of coins I have in my pocket will encourage them to get clean. You have to be truly desperate to walk over to a complete stranger and ask them for money, knowing what they must think of you.

My policy is as follows:

  • Never ignore someone who asks you something in the streets. Even if my answer is no, they deserve to be acknowledged at the least. This also applies to people trying to sell you something.
  • Be genuine in your response. I once said I didn’t have change on me, even though I did, and I felt crappy straight away. There is nothing wrong with saying: “Sorry, not today” or “I’m tight for cash myself at the moment”, rather than lying about it.
  • If I have an unopened bottle of soda or water on me, I will give them this rather than money.
  • If I have some spare change on me I hand it to them
  • In a rare case I could walk over to a nearby shop and buy them something.
  • When I do grocery shopping I sometimes buy something extra like a sandwich or a bottle of juice, with the homeless person I just saw in the back of my mind.
  • Wish them good luck.
  • Don’t let others change my mind about this.

6. Taking selfies is normal and OK

Again, old sock talking here, but this self absorbed modern day habit is so incredibly stupid, I don’t even know where to start. The eternal posing, the duckface, the angelic girlie look, the nonchalant glance out of the window, the looking up into the camera so they can look down into your cleavage, the confused frown, pointing at food, pointing at a friend, posing with a celebrity in the background trying to mind his own business, sticking out tongue, the peace sign… It all just makes me want to roll my eyes.

7. Plastic surgery is a healthy way to deal with low self esteem (and then lying about it)
My nose is crooked and relatively large, I have the typically protruding chin that runs through my family and have been mocked for my pointy knees. Sure, I have my insecurities. The fact that we can fix some (all?) of these features is admirable. I’m sure there are situations in which a visit to a plastic surgeon can be a great idea and improve lives in a major way. I also understand the growing old isn’t fun. I do. I don’t blame you for trying to fight it, but what’s up with all the denial?? And why take it to such an extreme that you stop looking like a human being all together ?

8. “The one”
love isForget the Matrix, there is no such thing as the One. The idea of there being one single person on the planet that matches with you for the full 100% is bull crap. First of all, everybody has their flaws and  in every relationship there are bound to be struggles. Besides charming your prince in shining armor will also have some ugly traits, as do you. This doesn’t mean you’re not good for each other. And if your individual traits clash more often than anticipated, there’s nothing wrong with calling it quits. Don’t worry, it’s not a sin or whatever you want to call it. There are billions of us on the planet. There are people in all shapes and sizes. There are bound to be several that fit your mold and chances are the person you end up loving the most, ticks none of the boxes you once fantasized your soulmate would have.

BTW, Tim Minchin wrote quite a cute song about this.

9. It is normal for love to fade
Despite the fact that I do not believe in “the one”, I do believe in true love. That this true love can be felt for different people throughout your life is beside the point here. What I want to debunk is the idea that it is OK to settle for a mediocre relationship and justify this to yourself by saying that every relationship loses its spark after a while. I disagree! Love changes, I’ll give you that. The passion might not be there with the same physical intensity it started out with, but it must still be in there somewhere. Staying with someone out of habit or pity or fear of change is a waste of your time. If you are not happy with the relationship you’re in, time to get up and leave!

no mediocre love 2

10. If you don’t have anything nice to say, better to say nothing at all.
Speaking your mind is never a bad idea!