If we examine our opinions, we can trace the tpuzzle seams between where we've been and what we truly know. I strive to be responsible with my opinions. Feed them a balanced diet of facts, perspective, narrative and whimsy. My opinions don't aspire to be big and strong. Just healthy. They don't yearn to be popular or franchised, just authentic and, hopefully, sturdy.
Even when they appear to match, opinions have unique owners. "Defending" our opinions should mean sketching their lineage: origin, influences, close relatives, familial mergers, adoptions and a nod to the season they spent "discovering themselves." Opinions offer shorthand for our emotions, experiences and unasked questions.
Question your opinions.
Test them in private to see if they can answer for themselves. If they're nervous or insecure. Are they loud? Lazy? Misinformed? People pleasers? How do your opinions respond to inspection or opposition? Are they holding a grudge? Wearing the same jacket from high school? There is no forever mandate on opinions. Quietly retire the ones that don't feed or reflect you, like the ones you boxed up from your parents' home, the ones your ex left all over the place, or the ones you thrifted with friends back in your twenties.
Not only will obsolete or unchecked opinions consume precious space in your thoughts and dealings, the feral ones tend to snap, bite and behave poorly under pressure or in mixed company. I have opinions that fidget, that lean, that refuse to eat their vegetables. The prickly, raggedy and ungenerous opinions are stored on high shelves, carefully labeled and out of the reach of unwitting children, robotic idealogues and unfamiliar dinner tables. They aren't all attractive, but all of my opinions are mine. Even the ones I've absorbed, even the ones under constant review and even the opinions not permitted to join polite conversation, I try to examine and own them all.
I see my opinions for what they are: my distillation of the world I live in ... alongside 7.5 billion other humans and all their #@$& opinions. My opinion doesn't know everything. My opinion isn't always proper or even fair. Sometimes, my opinion only knows that it is. Even in this nascent stage, mushy and vulnerable, my opinions are emblems of my life journey. How could I not take responsibility for that?