When it comes to knowing when to keep my mouth shut, I have a serious problem – subtlety has never been my strong suit. There’s just something in me that refuses to mislead, or even hold back… If I think it, you’ll know it, no bullshit.
Most of my friends would call me an open book. I don’t know where I got it from, or why I am the way I am… but, when I speak to people about my own experiences or beliefs, I just want the other person to be in my brain. To process the information the way I see it happening… to see how it is through my own eyes, banishing their own bias and absorbing mine. In certain instances, that makes me an excellent storyteller and teacher. Other times I appear very long-winded and narrow-minded. I can’t explain why I do it, but it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. I’ve lived my entire life putting the utmost trust in others. Sometimes—rightly so. Other times it’s caused me to get burned.
When I was younger, I used to talk to anyone who would listen. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to learn not everyone has my best interest in mind. That eventually, I would say the wrong thing to someone. Eventually, there would be people that would come into my life who would try and use my words against me. There came a point (probably in my early teens) when I realized not all people listened because they genuinely care, and I should choose wisely who to unabashedly confide in. That realization didn’t exactly stop me from spilling my mind (it’s completely involuntary), but it taught me to go about it a little wiser. It was around that time I made the decision to only speak the truth, so even if my compulsory word vomit ever did come back to bite me, I would always be able to own up to what was said.
And then there was a period of time towards the end of high school, when I went through a brutal honesty phase. Everyone, when seeking advice, received my unsolicited opinion, whether it was what they wanted to hear, or just plain rude. I gained a short-lived reputation as a bitch from this period, until I learned more about human nature (edit: I never stop learning about human nature).
You see, most people don’t spill their problems to you in hopes that you will offer some earth-shattering advice. They don’t tell you what’s wrong because they want your opinion, unless that opinion already validates their own beliefs. Most people just want to be heard, want someone to listen. So that’s what I do. Very rarely do people seek advice, but you’ll know when they do. And in those times, I do try and offer my unsolicited opinion (usually, though, only for people I am close with). I’m good at that, now that I’ve learned the difference between malicious honesty and subtle honesty. In most cases, it has earned me the respect of my friends, peers, and even my superiors.
The problem is knowing when to shut up. In 24 years, I’m still working on that….