From fully transparent to partially opaque

free expression

“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.

gabby microphoneIn 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.

hold your tongue
Some things are best unsaid.

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 think before you speakhaven’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.


18 thoughts on “From fully transparent to partially opaque

  1. Raegina April 19, 2017 / 3:39 am

    I agree that it is hard to find that balance between being open and keeping safe. Why do we need to build cages around parts of ourselves? Why does society feed off our information and twist it to use against us? I think you are brave to write, and also reflect on these things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 19, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      Hi Raegina. I wish we could always express ourselves 100% freely, but I have learned that sometimes in my haste/continuing flow things come out the wrong way or in ways that can be misunderstood. I’ve discovered that some things I am thinking about are not always interpreted the same way(s).

      I know fully transparent speech is not always a problem for some people.


    • updownflight April 19, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      Hi Raegina. I wish we could always express ourselves 100% freely, but I have learned that sometimes in my haste/continuing flow things come out the wrong way or in ways that can be misunderstood. I’ve discovered that some things I am thinking about are not always interpreted the same way(s).

      I know fully transparent speech is not always a problem for some people.


      • Raegina April 20, 2017 / 1:10 am

        Yes! I find that people freak out about something but I didn’t mean it that way. I write because I write to think so it is in the moment, you know?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. mumsthewordblog1 April 19, 2017 / 10:52 am

    Think before you speak 😃🐻

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joanna Maguire April 20, 2017 / 11:48 am

    I too have had trouble with being too open about things in the past and have learnt to be more cautious about my feelings and thoughts. It is sometimes just so much easier. Happy to have found your blog and look forward to reading more 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 20, 2017 / 1:17 pm

      Thank you, Joanna, for visiting my blog. People with bipolar disorder, like me, often have the tendency to speak too much too freely (and impulsively), but I know others without such an illness also do the same. My guess is that we all just want to share about our selves as a way to connect more quickly with others and encourage them to open up. Is that part of the reason you have been too open in the past?


      • Joanna Maguire April 24, 2017 / 8:03 pm

        I am happy to have discovered your blog 🙂 I think for me it was that I had always hidden things away inside and didn’t really talk to anyone. As part of my recovery I started telling people how I was feeling and what I thought…and I think I ended up going a little too far in that direction! I try to balance it a little more now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 10:39 pm

        I understand needing to balance what you do and don’t talk about. I’m able to write about what happened at 24 years old. But I think I’ll have a very hard time writing about my period between 34-38. They were almost traumatic years.


      • Joanna Maguire April 25, 2017 / 8:37 am

        You’ll write about them when and if you feel ready too. No need to pressure yourself or worry about that now x

        Liked by 1 person

  4. sally April 29, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    Very interesting article. Thanks for the food for thought. This has brought several things to mind for me.

    Once I knew a lady who once said she was going to be more transparent from now on. I never did get to know her.

    I find there is still a stigma against bipolar disorder, I even stigmatize myself quite a bit. After being rebuffed several times, I generally keep my illness to myself.

    I got to know my housekeeper almost immediately. After the first two visits she told me she was gay, didn’t believe in God, was a democrat and had no money. All the no, no subjects that people generally keep to themselves. Fortunately for her, I am very flexible in my viewpoints, but I did have to remind her that not everybody else in the world wants too know about all these things. A little opaque might go a long way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 29, 2017 / 5:00 pm

      What you told her is true. I guess unfortunately.

      I would love to just be totally transparent, but throughout my life I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t think negative reactions will ever be changed.

      It takes a long time sometimes to really trust a person with certain information, and I’ve personally found that even the closest people still need not know EVERYTHING.

      Thanks, Sally, for sharing on this topic.


  5. sally April 29, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    Another thought:

    No matter how transparent or opaque you or the other person is, it is almost impossible to change their viewpoint on many major topics. Views on religion, finances, sexual orientation, politics to name a few are usually instilled in somebody when they are very young. The innocent child, of course, doesn’t start out in life with any views at all. Taking the adult’s example is taught. Most people grow up to have their parent’s outlook until they reach maturity, then they may question it. If a person’s family are Roman Catholic or Republican for example, it is hardly likely that they will examine these things for themselves. I have found that being transparent or opaque about these subjects often leads to poor relationships.

    Any thoughts or experiences on trying to change other people’s views on important things in life?

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 30, 2017 / 11:31 am

      Hi Sally. Ideally, I think people need to get away from their childhood home environments to places where various views are held. For example, going to a university far from your home. Hopefully if young people do that they won’t just hide in little enclaves with people to like what they came from. I know that helped me in my youth.

      Certainly education needs to present various ideas, but in my country some places only teach narrow views. Media should explore various views too, but unfortunately too often people only watch news from one source or TV programs of one basic type.

      I’m not sure how to stop provincialism.


      • sally April 30, 2017 / 4:50 pm

        Yes, everything you say is true. However, I notice there is also an enormous amount of cultural differences that, coming from England, I find hard to overcome.

        I have lived in Texas for more than 20 years now but am still unable to build up any enthusiasm for sports, tattoos, rodeos, and particularly hunting. In fact I find the practice of hunting revolting, even though it is part of life here. It always brings to mind ‘thou shalt not kill’. And this is a very religious country. The use of firearms is also freely accepted even after so many mass shootings.

        Here I am, maybe too transparent on many topics.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight April 30, 2017 / 5:22 pm

        Hi Sally. I can certainly imagine that moving from England to Texas was a bit of a culture shock for you. I live in New Jersey, and I think there would be a similar culture shock for me. Not that Texas is a bad place, but I think many of the people there think quite differently about certain topics than many people from New Jersey.

        It was very clear in these past elections that there are significant differences in views depending on the part of the country you’re from. The sad part is that these views are often not debated in any calm and open-minded way. Anger and stubbornness (or close-mindedness) have unfortunately become common place. Now instead of different political parties working together to find common ground, all they do is fight each other, and ultimately a large percentage of the country is not served well at all.

        Maybe a little over a month ago I published a post here called “Hating is not fair”. It was certainly a controversial post for some. I did get several “likes”, but I also got comments telling me that they could not agree with any reasonable mercy for some types of people. They did not believe in the “thou shalt not kill” idea.

        The other day on my RSS feed there were articles about X number of people in Arkansas and one other state being executed. The articles made it almost sound like it was a joyful event. I think it’s a very tragic event. There’s one example of a major difference in viewpoint.


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