Having unpopular views and making unpopular choices may be glorified in film and literature but in reality, it doesn’t make anyone’s life’s easier. Long-term “living life on your own terms” can be annoying and occasionally even depressing. Te reality check often happens when you leave the bubble of your comfort zone and you deal with an outsider who has views so different to yours that he or she may seem like an alien from a different planet.
Let’s be honest, going with the herd is just what’s expected. It doesn’t matter whether you don’t believe in any gods, don’t want children, have 20 of them, dyed your hair pink or moved countries. Whenever you do something that most people don’t do and the effects of it are visible, the question you’ll get is “Why…?” and you’ll get it often.
I remember once hearing a father replying to his son’s question “Why does this lady dye her hair blue?” and him replying “Because that’s the colour she’s chosen for herself.”
It is, of course, possible to make yourself more open-minded. Unfortunately, a lot of people prefer to be surprised all the time, stare and ask. And hey, perhaps I’m a bit jealous. If it rocks your whole world every time you see glitter on someone who’s more than 5 than you truly have an exciting life!
Another thing I’ve noticed is that people’s tendencies grow with age. Those who were close-minded get even more into their shells and people who rocked the boat once are not shy to do it again. I think those who by some circumstances were pushed to do something out of ordinary develop a certain liking for it. I mean, it is liberating that you don’t have to do whatever people do and expect you to do but you can rather ask yourself whether it’s your preference.
Such an intrinsically motivated life can be definitely satisfying and sometimes when you’re on your own you can smile to yourself, feeling that you live a life you truly want. However, what people often leave out in their narratives of breaking the rules is the price that they have to pay for it. Sometimes they truly get so self-absorbed in the bubble they created that they forget that there’s a whole outside world out there who judges and disapproves.
Sometimes the meeting with this world is an Uber trip. The driver and I discussed charity. The conversation was full of mutual back-patting related to our amazing awareness of social issues. To improve the good impression the driver said that he’s a Muslim but that’s not why he helps others, it’s because he feels it’s needed. “What religion are you?” he said. Oh dear, I thought but “None,” I replied nonetheless. Then came the silence till I was dropped off and an Uber star rating that lowered my general score. Must be because of this baby I ate for breakfast.
Another time it was my husband’s drunk family member who cornered me in the bathroom at my own wedding, relentlessly trying to learn why my parents weren’t there. The reasons were complicated and none of them was something that I wanted to discuss or be reminded of. She wasn’t accepting any vague replies and eventually, I was saved by another wedding guest pressing bladder.
Yet another time it was actually a funny reminder. A post official misspelled my name and surname in a way that it started to look like a local one.
In any case, making unpopular choices is the easy part, it’s living with them that sometimes is difficult. All I’m saying is: let’s be real and just not forget in our “I’m such a unique snowflake and a rule breaker” narratives that sometimes it’s tough and annoying to be one. Especially, when like me, you struggle to bite your tongue.
Now, even though it can be difficult to express your unpopular views (be it in speech or behaviour), I still think it’s the only way to be. Therefore, what’s left is navigating through the difficulties. Here are certain techniques when people start being nosy and annoying, asking you the question you’ve been asked a zillion of times:
You remember Bridget Jones, the role model of all 30ish singletons? (Btw Poland is so bad in stigmatising being single that I could relate to her in my early 20s!). She had the following exchange with someone at a party trying to publicly shame her:
“- Why are there so MANY unmarried women these days?
– It could be because beneath our clothes, our bodies are completely covered with scales?!?”
If someone is trying to publicly shame you or is asking you a nosy and rude question such as why don’t you have a boyfriend (or when will you have babies or why do you have an accent etc) make a sarcastic remark referring to the underlying cause of your situation this person is suggesting there is.
- Reply with a question turning the tables
This is my favourite personal technique that unfortunately I often only use afterwards in my head after someone put me on the spot and I got emotional and hurt. Whatever someone’s asking, if you ask them “Why are you asking?” and start drilling, you allow them to embarrass themselves. Ideally, it goes something like that:
– So when are you planning to have children?
– Why are you asking?
A person either gets apologetic and says something like “No reason” or starts to express their actual views, which often end up being embarrassing in the eyes of everyone taking part in the exchange. You can also pull their tongue if they say something too vague with “So is what you’re saying…?” or “So do you think that…?” Expect fun results and blushing!
- Get emotional and angry
I don’t like this technique but because of my personal characteristics, I use it most often. Many people will back off when you get visibly upset but they also get what they came for. You are, after all, insecure about your silly choice and there is some underlying issue there!
- Be vulnerable
If you want to shut someone’s mouth forever, being vulnerable is a great option. Sometimes it can genuinely improve your relationship with the person, other times it will at least get them off your back. You can either truly tell them what you think about the issue or share the problems that are related to it. You may end up being accused of oversharing but in this case, it’s a means to an end.
Let me know in the comments section whether you have any more tips or thoughts on the matter! Also, enjoy this sort of related Monty Python clip because Monty Python is always good: