For as long as I can remember, my mom told me to always be true to yourself and stand your ground, no matter what. It is a precept that I hold dear to this day. I’m always myself, possibly to a fault. It’s definitely given me some grief in my childhood and teens from others, who prefer the safe choice of being like the rest and within their cliques.
I don’t portray myself as something that I’m not, when in a social situation. I’m polite and cordial on first impression, of course, but ask me my opinion, on any given subject, and I immediately let my 2-cent engine rip. I can’t help it. I like being myself. It’s too much work to try to be something more pleasing. Why bother? Reveal yourself, warts and all. It’s so liberating and makes you a more interesting person.
One of the things I love about my wife, Claudia, is that she doesn’t agree with me on everything and isn’t afraid to let me know it. We debate on lots of things, from mundane subjects like computers (she’s a Mac loyalist whereas I don’t mind Windows too much and see the appeal of Linux) to more serious matters like constructive criticism on my character flaws. Recently she told me that I’m too brash and mean and I complain more than I should. I don’t always agree with her (are you surprised?), but I love her for her candor.
When I speak to anyone, I do so with all my cards revealed. I’m an open book. Thusly, I expect the same. When I criticize you or give you an opinion, I do so with open arms. I own up to my stance and if you rebut it and prove me wrong, I admit that I’m wrong and concede your point. If you wish to share your opinions and critique by all means do it. Don’t sugar coat it, or try to soften the blow. Don’t try to use southern hospitality on me like, “Not for nothing…” and then say your point so that when I try to respond you look shocked and be all, “But I said not for nothing”. By all means, critique me all you want. Don’t add, “Just busting your chops” so I can’t respond. Because believe me if I disagree with your assessment I’ll come loaded for bear. And after I respond, don’t dismiss my comments with a little quip. Stop deflecting and engage. That makes for good discourse and an exchange of ideas.
Stop playing it safe all the time. Let down your masks once in a while. If you feel that you can’t stop your compulsion to please everybody or can’t cede your flawless all-likeable-persona, at least heed me one caveat: Be completely honest with me with your opinions or criticism, or don’t say anything to me at all. I don’t have time to read between the lines. I like things up in my face and out in the open.Follow @juliofromny