Everyone has opinions. Everyone has opinions about their opinions. I have an opinion, you have an opinion—he, she, we, it, they, the royal we—we’ve all got em.
Your family definitely has opinions about your new haircut, what you should do for a living, how you should eat right, who you should date, among other things. Your coworkers have opinions about work ethic, about what work is supposed to look like, about how they wish you wouldn’t tap your feet like a drummer so loudly, and what you should do in your free-time. Your friends have them too—what music you should listen to, what clothing styles are cool or not, what movies you should quote, what you should do on the weekends, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with this. Particularly if you are surround by amazing people who want the best for you. But even so—even if you are in an ideal situation where everyone want’s to see you succeed—what others deem the best for you isn’t always the same as what you think is the best for you.
Problems can arise when we start believing opinions to be truth and when we adopt the opinions of others because they say so. Usually, we are talking very subtly here. Most people don’t come out and say “Because I want you to / Because that’s what I do / Because I said so” explicitly.
We absorb opinions like we absorb the sun while tanning at the beach—we usually don’t realize it’s happening, and if we forget our sunblock we’re gonna be burnt.
In this metaphor, Thinking is our SPF 30. And the better we are at thinking, the better our SPF.
By taking the time to think things through—rather than regurgitating everything we read, hear and see— we can have a more precise control on what opinion’s we absorb.
Telling me cilantro is the worst herb in existence doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy cilantro on my tacos. We can use what opinions work for us or not. And we can respect the people around us by remembering and recognizing the opinions of others (—to a point anyway). Next time, I’ll be sure to not put cilantro on your tacos (and put it on mine instead).
Here’s a less silly example: It’s fantastic to want to work for a big company and have all the benefits that comes with having bosses. But just because you like it doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for everyone. As good as the benefits are, some people just need to do their own thing.
Don’t try to just block all opinions from coming in. Sometimes it’s good to have an outside perspective and a fresh take on things. It’s a big world out there and there’s been centuries of humans that have lived and died before our time—therefore we’re likely wrong about a thing or two… or three. Being wrong isn’t wrong—it’s a chance to change into someone better. What’s wrong is holding onto our misguided opinion for dear life, plugging our ears and screaming “la la la la la I can’t hear you!” when we realize we may be on the wrong side of things.
The key to owning your life is to take all of these opinions coming at you and make them your own truth. Living your life by the opinion of others is a surefire way to be miserable.
Trust yourself. Study wisdom. Admit when you are wrong and change for the better. Learn to think—really think about what you hear—and remember the big picture.
We’re all just idiot little specks on a giant organic rock zooming through space trying to figure life out.