“I realized in the early days I just didn’t edit at all. But I think you become a little more cagey with your lyrics when you know more people are going to hear them and make assumptions about you as a person. Realizing that, you want to be a little more opaque.” – Eddie Vedder (of the band Pearl Jam)
There are people in this world, especially enthusiastic communicators of all sorts, who wish to express every thought, feeling, attitude, and dream freely. They are fully open and transparent, and that is a great release for them. Their openness may also have other purposes. One could be to let people know completely who they are, what their loves and interests are, so as to attract people to be closer to them. Or maybe they talk or write freely to remind themselves who they are, for self-exploration.
In the past, people have labeled me as very open. Initially I took that as a great compliment, but later down the line I wondered if perhaps some meant that as a warning to a degree. It took me some time, but I did eventually learn that although being a fully open book with people can be liberating, it can also serve to turn people away, depending on what is said. Sometimes, openness can reveal grandiosity, or just the opposite, low self-esteem. It can expose information others don’t really need to know. Sometimes being slightly opaque prevents communication hazards, and provides just the right amount of mystery to invite questions from others. Many people have some secret thoughts, and expect others should have the same.
We don’t want to necessarily teach others how to perceive us. Nor do we want them to judge why we communicate so freely. The mystery I mentioned allows others to concoct in their minds a certain perception of who we are, that may be even more generous than what we present to them ourselves.
I have been very open about my life, but there have been topics I haven’t shared, and will not touch. Not just because I know there are societal limits on sharing, but I’ve learned to stay mum on matters that can rouse an angry response from people who don’t know how to argue in a calm and civilized manner. I’d be happy to debate and defend my position on any issue, no matter how controversial, but I’m tired of people who have to raise their voice or resort to personal insults to “prove” their point. Anybody who does that basically broadcasts their own ignorance.
It is a cliché that loving couples always wish there to be some bit of mystery between them. A mystery that they can explore throughout their lives together. Though there is also certainly some comfort in knowing each other like an old cozy blanket. Relationships can become stale and tedious. And aren’t we all ever changing beings? Changing at least in small degrees? Perhaps it’s not immediately apparent to others, but deep down inside you feel and see the changes (or desire for changes) developing over time. Sometimes it’s wise to keep them to yourself. Or if you do reveal your new revelations or dreams, it might be best to do so gradually in a cautious manner.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we should be free to loudly announce to the world our feelings and opinions, but let us first spend a moment to consider the consequences. And as a final reminder (mostly to me), let’s make sure we listen carefully to others.