We listened to a lot of Green Day when my sons were in high school. The song Minority was always in the mix. I think about that song off and on. I’m not sure I WANT to be the minority, but I often feel like I am.
I used to think I was just a contrarian. Now, I don’t think that’s really a fair assessment even though it’s not unusual for me to see things differently from most of the people with whom I interact. Lots of days feel like opposite day in my world.
On car rides, my dad liked to choose a current event and ask my opinion about it. Whatever I said, he’d express the opposite opinion and we’d discuss at length. It was immaterial whether I agreed with what I was saying. What was important was that I be able to think through an issue thoroughly.
That became my habit. Look at something. Explore. Look at it from the other side. Explore. Come up with arguments that support each point of view.
I’m not always sure where I’ll land on an issue, but I routinely have an opportunity to see things from a different perspective before I figure that out. I love it that this became an ingrained habit. I also feel like a sore thumb sometimes.
We are all unique and even if you are more mainstream than I, there will be times you feel different, misunderstood or like your opinion is not valued.
How can you feel good when that happens?
There may be no avoiding feelings of frustration, irritation, annoyance, or anger in the moment. Sometimes, you may momentarily feel less than. However you feel is okay. The key is for those feelings to move through without affecting how you view yourself.
Here are a few things you can do to help:
Set boundaries – There are times you may want to avoid sharing what you think or feel. You’re under no obligation to share if doing so will harm you.
Recognize the power of your voice – When you’re standing alone, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by opposing voices. This can make you feel torn between staying silent and offering your view.
The truth is, you are not as alone as you believe. You may be the only person in a particular room who sees what you see, but there will be many more in other rooms whose voice may not be heard unless you speak up.
Understand the value of your opinion – When others in a discussion have a greater volume of wealth, education, status, position, or force, it’s easy to tell yourself their thoughts matter more than yours.
The interesting thing is that those things may, in fact, limit their knowledge in some areas. That is where you can fill in the gaps.
And even when there is no gap, you may have a take on a situation no one else has considered. If you don’t speak out, no one will benefit from what you have to offer.
Bounce ideas off someone else – Call a friend whose opinion you respect and give your ideas a test run. Sometimes just saying something out loud helps cement your passion for it.
Forgive yourself – If you end up feeling like you’ve spoken when you shouldn’t or held back when you should have spoken, forgive yourself. Decide whether you will revisit the issue or let it go.
You cannot undo what’s been done. You’ll gain nothing from beating yourself up. That same energy can be redirected to exploring what you learned, how you hope to handle things in the future, or practicing gratitude for the opportunity to make a choice.
I have no doubt that I’ll soon be back in a situation in which I want to be the minority. I’m thinking that’s a good thing.