I am not a contrarian. Not deliberately so, anyway. I know that my mother believes I do it on purpose, but I really don’t. It’s not like I wake up and choose violence. I don’t think, “Hm, what is the most contrary position I can take?” and then voice that.
My mother once said to me in exasperation, “Something isn’t bad just because it’s tradition.” To which I replied, “That doesn’t make it automatically good, either.” She did not like that. At all.
It’s true, though. Just because something is tradition, it doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. I don’t see anything wrong with questioning something in order to time-test it. If it’s good, then continue to do it. If not, then let it go. I don’t think that’s controversial, but I know it is.
The biggest examples in my life are having children and getting married. Let’s add to that being in a long-term hetero relationship. Let’s lump all that together under the umbrella of family shit. I knew since I was young that I was going to get married to a man and have children. My mother made it very clear that it was my duty as a woman to have children and to take care of my husband. In the other order, actually.
When I was 22, I was madly in love with my boyfriend at the time. We were talking about having children and I realized that I did not want them. At all. I cannot tell you how great that felt. My heart lifted and I was free! I didn’t have to have children. It’s still the best decision I’ve made in my life, by the way.
Along with the biggies, though, there are the more medium choices that I’ve made that are weird. Like my hobbies. Taiji isn’t weird in and of itself, though it’s less popular in the States than is yoga. I had to Google that because while it feels true, I didn’t know for sure. Roughly 2.5 million people practice Taiji in America versus 37 million people and yoga. So, yeah, I was right. Taiji is way less popular, which is of no surprise to me. Hm. Another resource says 3.7 million practice Taiji in America. At any rate, it’s roughly 1/10th the amount that practices yoga or less.
I can only guess that those who study Taiji weapons is even less. This makes it a very niche hobby, which isn’t surprising to me. I did not choose it because it’s the lesser-practiced meditative practice, but it’s not surprising that I’m drawn to it in part for that reason.
I have tried yoga. My mother used to do it and urged me to try. I promise I tried it with an open mind. The first time was at a party for a friend who had another friend who was a yoga instructor. She had us all doing stretches and then came over to me and pushed me further into the stretch. I felt a searing pain and yelped. Another time, I took an intro class and it just hurt. A lot. I was pushed to do more than I felt comfortable with in that class, too.
To be fair, the first time I took Taiji, that teacher who said he prided himself on reading people and not touching them when they didn’t want to be touched overly touched me as well. Then again, he was sleeping with his students so there’s that. At one point, he reached over and flicked my hair off my shoulder. It was such an intimate and, yes, sexual move that I froze. I left and never went back again.
My current teacher would never touch me unbidden. Yes, I do have body trauma, but I don’t think you should touch people without their consent, regardless. I guess I just have an energy that says touch me when I don’t want it to. I think i’s more because I’m excellent at masking my emotions than because I’m actually radiating ‘touch me’ vibes. Much like people dump all their problems on me without me encouraging them.
The other medium thing is FromSoft games (which spills over into pop culture in general). It’s a very niche genre, even though it’s at its peak popularity with Elden Ring being a smash hit. Most people in the community seem to like Bloodborne the best, which is my second-least favorite of the games. I’m always careful to talk about my favorites as opposed to the objective best because I have to take my limitations into account. I have bad reflexes and spatial issues, so Sekiro is at the bottom of my list. That’s the only one of the games in which you have to conform to the game and not the other way around.
Dark Souls III is my favorite and has been since I played it the second time through. Or third. Probably not the first because I hate every game upon finishing it. Elden Ring was fighting for first place as I played it, but for now it’s a hair behind DS III. I’ve only played it through three times, though, in comparison to the dozens of times I’ve played DS III.
In the community, liking Dark Souls III is heresy. The only worst opinion would be to place DS II at the top. Which is my fourth-favorite, above BB and Sekiro. Also heresy! It’s fascinating to me to listen/read other people’s opinions because so many people cannot imagine other people feeling differently about something.
I used to not understand why people got so upset when someone did not like the same things they liked, but now I understand it better. For people who deeply identify with a movie, say, and feel like it gets them, having someone they love hate that movie can feel personal. As someone who is used to others not liking what I like (a massive understatement), it’s amusing to me to watch others get in a lather about it. There was a woman on Twitter who would have a fit every time I said I didn’t like something she liked. Mind, I wasn’t saying it to her–just tweeting about it in general. Like I don’t like the Beatles. Or The Big Lebowski. She tweeted to me that she couldn’t believe I didn’t like (whichever one I was tweeting about at the time). How could I not like something so perfect in every way? That was not an invitation to tell her why I didn’t like them, by the way. She did not want to hear it. No way, no how, no sirree. If I told her I felt the former was overrated and the later pretentious twaddle, I’m sure her head would have exploded.
As a result, i have learned to keep my opinions to myself or to sugarcoat them. I don’t want to yuck anyone’s yum, but I also am not going to say I like something I don’t. Captain Awkward once had a long rant about this, and I agree that if people are excitedly discussing something, then that’s not the time to shit all over them. As long as they don’t take it personally if I back out with a ‘this isn’t for me’. That’s the missing part. People who like something have to be able to accept that other people may not like it and don’t necessarily want to talk about it.
It’s because I constantly have to bite my tongue when it comes to my opinion that I bristle when I hear rants like Captain Awkward’s. I don’t get the same respect because my opinions are weird and not the norm. If you want me to be thoughtful about your opinions, then you should do the same for mine.