The other day someone described me as ‘opinionated’. It was during quite a normal conversation and I’m sure it was not intended as an insult – I hope not. I think there was a positive element in there. Or perhaps I just want there to be?
There is something about the term ‘opinionated’ which conjures up that bombastic person, the one who can’t wait to tell you what they think about something, anything. The one who won’t countenance dissent. The one who believes they know everything and can’t bear being put right.
Opinionated. I felt a bit weird to be described that way. It was not a term I would use about myself. I’m aware that I have opinions – doesn’t everyone? I know I am prepared to share my opinions, especially in discussion with others.
But surely that is a good thing. How else can conversations take place. Okay there are those exchanges that manage on a shared perspective, each agreeing with the previous ‘lovely weather/yes isn’t it’ sort of conversation. Or ‘ugh! the Tory government austerity measures/I know the need for food banks is a disgrace in a civilised society’. But what about those instances when some idiot suggests that immigration is a bad thing or all Muslims are terrorists. Surely if my opinion differs I have got to be fearless in sharing it.
I’m a bit confused about whether to be pleased or offended by the epithet of ‘opinionated’. For someone who has so many opinions I can be indecisive!
I won’t deny I do have opinions about all sorts of things – ranging from how the world should be run to the best colour for handbag linings. I am not sure where they all came from. If I was being glib I would say that I was brought up that way. We were a political family – active in local politics. We were also a religious family but with varying degrees of faith. So I suppose some of my opinionated ways of carrying on are merely the result of participation in discussions around the kitchen table. A positive thing when viewed that way. Looked at slightly differently I would say that, putting all the politics and religious fervour to one side, we were also an argumentative family. Mum and Dad could disagree about almost anything – what had been said, and when, which route to take on a day out. They had their views, their opinions and were happy to share them.
My opinion on opinions is that we should all have them. For me, that person who never puts forward an idea, a viewpoint, an argument can be dull. Opinions don’t have to be big or significant. Take for example my opinions on handbag linings – they should never be black as it makes it nigh on impossible to find anything in there. I hold firm to this opinion and use it to guide my purchases. If asked I will share with others. As with all my opinions.
I don’t think this makes me an opinionated person – not in the pejorative sense. My more opinionated opinions I reserve for members of my close family or simply my internal self. There are some things that I don’t want to share, would find impossible to put into words or I know could offend.
Or so I like to think. Perhaps the fact that I am writing this blog would suggest otherwise. What’s your opinion?