The past few years of living in New York City have taught me that most people here think they have all the answers, or at the very least don’t want to admit when they don’t. I’m one of those annoying people who think they know everything and that if my friends would just follow my advice, everything would be a lot better. In turn, my friends have fed my ego by coming to me for all matters of advice since middle school. It’s not because I haven’t made my own mistakes. Just as my friends haven’t always followed my advice, I haven’t either. Despite knowing the thing I should do, I sometimes make wrong choices because I’m human. Over the years, I’ve become so accustomed to giving advice that I sometimes give it when it’s not even requested, to varying degrees of success. Since I’m not one to wait to be asked my opinion, I’ve decided to share my advice regardless of whether or not it’s wanted. I’m confident that following my advice will lead to a happier, more productive life and that most people will ignore it flat out, as most of my friends have for years.
While the holiday season brings joy and cheer, it also brings a lot of stress, often during family interactions. It should come as no surprise, given how much I love to spread my opinions around, that I’ve always enjoyed debating various topics with friends, family and often, complete strangers. Living in New York often presents me opportunities to speak with people who have different viewpoints than mine, and it’s hard for me not to voice my opinion. Nothing is off limits. Politics, religion, you name it, I will debate it. I’m not one for heated arguments full of name calling and hurt feelings. A civilized back and forth between two respectful individuals can be a great way to pass an afternoon. I’ve been involved in many debates, some successful and some not so much. If I have one vice (actually I have many), it’s my big mouth. The one thing that I’ve realized is that in order to have a productive debate, you need a willing partner.
As can be deduced, I often land on a different side of the big issues than my family that has spent most of their lives in suburban Maine. It doesn’t help that my stubborn streak is an inherited treat. I make a choice not to engage when more conservative topics are introduced at the holidays because my family has never shown much interest in my “worldly views.” At 26, there’s no doubting that I’m an adult, but convincing someone who used to change your diapers that you’re now a functioning member of society isn’t always as easy as it seems. Though I feel that I’ve had significant life experience which entitles me to voice my opinions at the grown-up table, to my family who only sees me twice a year, I’m still a kid.
When someone presents you with an opinion that is different then your own, you have a very important question to ask yourself before you open your mouth. What will I gain from making my opinion known? It has taken me most of my life to realize that other people don’t like debating nearly as much as I do. Some people aren’t educated enough in their opinions to tell you why they’re right and you’re wrong, other than “because.” Yet others don’t realize that sometimes neither person is right and a difference of opinion can stem from any number of disparate life experiences. Sometimes, like during the holidays, you’re presented with the wrong setting to start a debate. My suggestion is to enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones. We all get a finite number of years before the kids grow up and stop getting excited about presents under the tree. Appreciate these times while you have them. There will always be more time for debating in the new year.