We’ve been called selfish for not wanting children. We’ve also been accused of “living off the fat of the land” in a “life of destitution” because we chose not to sentence ourselves to frustrating commutes and insane deadlines at full-time work.
People either think that we’re poor because we live in a trailer or filthy rich because that trailer happens to be an Airstream. Or, we’re privileged little dregs who grew up in white-collar neighborhoods without the slightly clue what people – you know, real people, are going through.
“It must be nice to be rich!” remarked a fellow camper after he found out that Airstream down the row was ours. Pay no attention to the fact that we bought a 10-year-old Airstream who’s previous owners did no enhancements to it.
No – since we live in an Airstream, that automatically makes us rich.
In other words, most people are quick to judge and resist the strain it takes to think – to think about all possible options and outcomes, and why things are the way they are.
They see one thing and immediately connect it with another, drawing ill-informed conclusions based on shallow (or non-existent) information.
But, that doesn’t stop most of us from judgment, does it? Of course not.
What version of the truth do you believe?
And, it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not we’ve even met the person, either. It doesn’t. You’ve probably seen this.
We read something and form this insanely complete and often-dreadfully-inaccurate picture of the person…all based on a microscopic subsection of information that we read or saw, probably completely out of context.
But yet, our opinion has been formed. Boom! After mere seconds of interaction, we instantly know what kind of person they are. We know whether they are nice or mean, rich or poor, “privileged” or something else.
And we all do it, too. You do it. I do it. Nobody is immune.
Opinions are like assholes – everybody’s got one.
Opinions come cheap…maybe too cheap
It’s true because, well, opinions are easy to have. It doesn’t take any effort, work or discipline to attain an opinion. It just…is. And if you’re like most people, you generally aren’t afraid to tell people about those opinions.
As Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park once said:
“I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here: it didn‘t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn‘t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it.”Iam Malcolm – Jurrassic Park
As a content creator using a couple different mediums (mainly text and video), I get to be the recipient of a hell of a lot of opinions.
I get to hear about a variety of things, like:
- stuff that I should be doing, but aren’t
- things that I should have done differently, but didn’t
- things that I should probably do instead, but don’t
- what to believe; how to live; what food to feed our dogs; what beers are “really” the best; what cars to drive; what things to do
Trust me — when you put yourself out there like I do, you bear the brunt of a lot of different people’s viewpoints, perspectives and, yes, biases. It happens with all of us, not just me.
Here’s the truth, though:
I would drive myself insane if I listened to all you people
My opinion may not jive with yours. I may not have the same level of expertise diagnosing automotive problems as you. I might suck at drawing pictures or choosing the best type of bread to buy. Or fix a leaky faucet as well as you can. In other words, you have skills that I just don’t have.
Then again, you may not be able to sit down and write a 2,500 word article in an hour like I can, either. Or write your own web applications.
Or take your camera out and get some pretty cool stuff, like this:
We all can’t be like one another. We can’t all be experts in everything. And likewise, I can’t possibly listen to and adjust my perspective in life because someone else might have a different one.
Why? Simple: If I did that, I’d be changing my opinions and perspectives all the time. I’d never be content. My life would be consumed by worry and overrun with thoughts of inadequacy because someone out there might just have an opinion that’s different than mine.
And naturally, they might be right.
And once that person finds out that my viewpoint is different, what will they think of me? Maybe that I’m an idiot? Inexperienced? A sheltered and privileged white boy?
I care about what you think…but not really
Make no mistake about it: I have changed my opinion before based on my interactions with others. It happens. In fact, it’s happened a lot.
I used to be a very conservative person, but the more that I saw, the more I experienced, the more I worked in very specific career fields and positions, the more Libertarian I became.
Live and let live. Don’t bother me, I won’t bother you. Do whatever the hell makes you happy. Truthfully, I just don’t care.
I also was a very passive-aggressive person. I would use social media and post condescending messages that I knew certain people would read and react to – just because I wanted to be a jerk.
While I’m still not perfect, I’m far from the person whom I used to be.
I’ve learned from those around me. Through the power of observation, I was able to escape my hardened and myopic view of the world and improve nearly every facet of my life.
I did it by listening to those around me. Taking criticism.
But, I also don’t (and can’t) live my life always wondering whether or not someone’s going to like what I write or say, film or photograph. I just don’t care. I can’t care. I can’t.
I just can’t. But, it’s nothing personal…
I would drive myself certifiably insane if I cared about what everybody thought. And, I don’t want to be insane. I just want to do my best. Every time. And, learn a bit along the way.
If you’re smarter than I am, then great. I’m proud of you! If you’re dumber than I am, that’s fine too. If you think I do everything wrong, that’s cool.
We believe whatever we want to believe.
And, have fun with that. I sure do. 🙂
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.