Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time with two of my nieces. They were attending a conference in Orlando and I drove up and spent the night with them. We had a lovely sushi dinner, then talked till 2:30 in the morning ~ about life, love, memories, etc. It was a wonderful, wonderful evening.
During the evening I shared some of my past with them. I wanted them to know that we all make mistakes, that love isn't everything when it comes to relationships, how important self-knowledge is. Oh yeah, I was the wise aunt. Then I got home and started thinking - did I share too much? Perhaps what I shared was a little TMI (too much information)? Perhaps they had a vision of their aunt that I had now destroyed. So I emailed them with my concerns and was happy to hear nothing was further from the truth.
They were both happy to hear of my stories, my lost loves, my experiences...they both felt closer to me for sharing, and felt they were not alone. And much to my amazement, I was told that it made me more real, that I had the image of being a bit 'holier than thou' about certain things. What? Me? I never would have thought that about myself. I am far from perfect, with many faults. I do have strong opinions and I'm not afraid to express them; perhaps some people don't like to hear what I have to say. But on further reflection, I can see where some would think me 'holier than thou'. It's all in perception.
Perception. Something I've been thinking much about...it can be the cause of much misunderstanding. In this day and age, all the newfangled ways of communicating - though easier - can lead to hurt feelings and bad thoughts. Sure, it's easier to blog, or facebook, or twitter, or even the old-fashioned email - but what I write can be so misunderstood. I know what my intentions are, but can the person who reads my words know what inflection I intended? Can they know when I'm chuckling? No. Same goes for me when I read an email...I can add my own emotion to the words I read; interpret the words completely different than what was intended. Why not just pick up the phone and talk?
What I do know is this: for those I love, nothing could make me stop loving them. Nothing. I may not agree with what they do, a certain lifestyle, certain language, but we are each individuals. Things I do or say may not be met with acceptance, but I am me. I'm okay, you're okay. And more than anything, instead of voicing my strong opinions all the time, perhaps I should just be quiet and listen; and voice my love and acceptance more often.