Social Politics

Usually, I describe myself as a total “people person”. I love interacting with people and getting to know someone new. I love being able to pull people out of their shells and have them tell me a little more about themselves. Simply put, I love getting to know people because it’s like exploring the world as each person sees it.

Most of the time, I still feel this way. Most of the time, interacting with people is a positive experience and I feel better for it. But as I get older, I’ve become more aware of the social politics involved in building friendships and relationships in general. And I don’t like it.

Suddenly I have to consider censoring my opinions because someone else might become offended. I was always under the assumption that if you had a different opinion from someone else you could discuss it to learn a little more about how they think, or accept your differences and move on. I know that not everyone will think as I do, and I’m totally fine with that. Clashing opinions shouldn’t be a roadblock in a friendship.

I don’t understand why acceptance is such a foreign concept to some people. People who don’t know how to accept are generally the same people who are major advocates of hypocrisy without even knowing it. For them, honesty is great. As soon as that honesty is returned, it’s considered to be rude and inappropriate.

The only way to avoid those reactions is by practicing social politics. Tailoring your responses and behaviours to match the expectations of others. Pretending to agree and smiling and nodding like everything is perfectly aligned with their restricted view of the world.

It’s maddening.

While most of the time I’m a people person, these days I’ve been feeling more like a lone wolf. Being around big groups of people, trying to be as diplomatic as possible is exhausting. I’ve always prided myself on being genuine. When the world tries to make it impossible for me live up to that, I find I need to step back, spend some time alone and reflect with my own thoughts.

I know I won’t change how I interact with others and my honest approach. Similarly, I can’t expect others to change and be more honest with me. I’ve accepted these differences, and it’s a shame that others’ can’t do the same.

Accept life. Accept that it will be confusing and hurtful, but also beautiful and inspiring. Accept that there will be differences between yourself and others. Accept that misunderstandings will happen.

Accept yourself.

– S.

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