When Opinions Hurt

Matt - West Jordan, Utah
Entered on September 18, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I am a very opinionated person and I am not shy when it comes to expressing my views. Politics, sports, religion. You name it, I have an opinion on it. I have been told I lack the internal filter from my brain to my mouth, which is supposed to filter the negative views from being vocalized. I thought that to be a compliment, a badge of courage that said, “hey world, I’m not afraid of what people think or who I offend. I’m rebellious.” But something happened to me about a year ago that would help to build that filter.

I was working at a retail store when a customer asked me about my shirt. I was wearing a white t-shirt with a variety of guns plastered all over it. “Is that an anti-war shirt or do you just really like guns?” My answer was short and simple… I just really liked the shirt. There was no deeper meaning. But as our conversation grew, the customer started asking me about our current war and my political stance. Much to her surprise, I informed her of my disapproval of the war. She began telling me about her involvement in anti-war protests and asked if I’d ever been involved with one. I told her that with my cousin, the person who has been most like an older brother to me, being a marine and stationed in Iraq, I did not think it was right for me to be protesting. Her next comment caught me off guard. “Why would your cousin waste his life by becoming a marine?” I was pissed, disgusted, and, most importantly, hurt. How could someone who so blatantly advertises their involvement in protests say that about a person who is protecting her right to do so?

I could no longer talk to this lady. I literally wanted to reach across the counter to slap her (I wouldn’t have actually slapped her). I had to excuse myself from the store and go cool off. I was SO mad. The nerve of some people… And then it hit me… Had my so-called “courage” to speak my mind affected someone like this lady had affected me? Had someone thought I was a pompous asshole like I thought that lady was? Suddenly, being a loose lipped know-it-all didn’t seem so courageous. It seemed obnoxious. The disregard for people’s feelings I flaunted at one point had vanished. I now knew what it felt like to be offended by an over-opinionated person like myself. The filter had formed.

I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, whatever it may be. But also, I now believe some opinions should be kept to themselves, unless enticed. Build a filter. Let your mind think what it wants to think, but know when to keep your thoughts to yourself.