The concept of an unpopular opinion is wildly complex in nature. It’s very basis requires a common understanding of the behaviors, social constructs, and ideals deemed appropriate by any specific group.
While the exact rules of engagement are impacted by time, setting, and other elusive forces (such as authority, intimacy, etc); these patterns can be predicted with great accuracy. To understand that an opinion is unpopular, is to first understand how your peers operate.
Some of us are noticeably more comfortable disagreeing with others. Whether we have a novel opinion regarding McDonald’s Diet Coke, Dana Carvey’s impression of George H.W. Bush, or original sin; some of us simply enjoy the discourse.
It is incredibly important to hone the ability to voice dissenting opinions, actively listen to those belonging to another, and to practice empathy in its truest sense. This becomes increasingly difficult when the line of opinion, morality, and virtue bleed like the red sock in your all-white laundry. Yet, that is when it is arguably much more important to lean in and find a common thread in our humanity.
My own unpopular opinions have made me feel like an ‘other’ at quite a few different points in my life. Like, Zoolander‘s Mugatu “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills” different. For example…
Crop-tops are bizarre. This article of clothing signifies that absolutely NO FUN will be had, whatsoever. No bread. No margaritas. No sitting down. Even if you’re able to move beyond the vanity of the whole thing, there’s something more primitive there. Anatomically, human beings are extremely vulnerable when it comes to the midsection. I’m not saying a crop-top is an invitation to be disemboweled by an 80’s slasher villain, but it’s not a far stretch of the imagination either.
A face full of make-up is OK too. Women who enjoy wearing make-up are not inherently insecure or shallow. These women aren’t necessarily any less naturally beautiful, either. This is simply an ancient, ritualistic, creative expression. Some of us do it for men, some of us do it for women, some of us do it for ourselves. Women are taught that our beauty and our purity is synonymous to our worth; and this is the ugly roundabout intersection of the two. Men are allowed to run shirtless at the beach. Let us have this.
Tattoos don’t require deep, familial symbolism. Charm bracelets, laptop bumper stickers, graphic tees, and vision boards are feverishly celebrated; as they allow for an expression of identity without much commitment. As modern humans, we’re obsessed with the concept of permanence (ie: marriage, divorce, death). So, we expect that something as permanent as a tattoo should be tied to our moral fiber. BULLSH*T. They can be souvenirs; scars from our past, symbols of triumph, or even a small token of happiness. Whether or not there’s an ‘impressive’ story behind someone’s skin art, it has brought them at least one ounce of joy. Honor that instead.
Being offended easily isn’t a valuable virtue signal. The present climate of ‘Call-Out culture’ has demanded the utmost vigilance. So much value has been placed on being politically correct, that we forget to be real. We’d rather be offended than offensive, so we just stop there. This effectively dismisses potentially transformative conversations. Being sensitive doesn’t mean you’re ‘woke’ or supportive in any way. You have to be willing to push through the ugly conversations to get anything done around here.
Alcohol isn’t cutesy. It’s an addictive substance that severely impairs our cognitive and motor functioning. Busy Phillips tackled the widely accepted ‘mommy wine culture’, insisting that women fell victim to a marketing scheme that enabled them to numb themselves 24/7. This creates a cycle of vulnerability and destruction that is all too defeating. TL;DR Don’t use it to take the edge off of an argument, general boredom, or loneliness. It will only become a catalyst for far worse. Tequila shots should make you dance, not help you cope with your day.
Hustle Culture is toxic. We should not be ‘grinding’ until we die. Our friends are not required to fuel our pipe dreams with their own time or money. Our hobbies should bring a genuine sense of joy and accomplishment to our lives. It is important to allow time for rest and introspection. Lean in to your restlessness and get to know yourself again.
Saying “I’m not sure” is wise*. It’s okay to say “I just read the headline of that news story”. It’s okay to say “I don’t know enough to have an opinion on that yet”. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to. None of this barters away our intelligence.
Pop Radio is OK. Some Top Hits are shameless bangers (THE JONAS BROTHERS ARE BAAAAAACK!). You don’t have to be an expert in discography to endorse a favorite artist. You don’t have to justify your tastes in various genres. You don’t have to like every song on an album to be a ‘real fan’ (Major exception: any album from The Weeknd. Those were carefully crafted and you must enjoy them in order!).
Expectations are healthy. I’ve seen lots of ‘inspirational’ advice that echos the concept of ‘Don’t have any expectations so you’ll never be let down’. I refuse to accept that brand of learned helplessness. Expectations should be communicated openly, honestly, and respectfully. We shouldn’t abandon them entirely just because our hearts have been broken a few times.
Worst Song: Yeah! – Usher Raymond. Close second: Honey I’m Good – Andy Grammer. I’m a sleepy girl, but I will always have enough energy to turn off both of these songs (as well as any episode of the George Lopez show).
Not every Insta-filtered Tweet is a healthy mantra worthy of your mind-space. Not every self-help tip is essential to your growth. Continue to think critically. You’re not required to make waves, but you do owe yourself an authentic existence.
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.Daring Greatly. 2012. Brene Brown.
*It is hilarious to see the lengths we will go to seem like we have all of the answers. My best friend from elementary school and I would often catch each-other by saying “Remember when _ happened in the new Harry Potter book?”. We’d build onto the story in embarrassing detail until we’d say “YOU LIAR! That never happened! I knew you weren’t as big as a fan as me!”.
What sick, twisted virtue signal was that!? Teenage girls are evil! And that is a popular opinion.