As a person, I am intrigued by what people are passionate about, whatever it may be, so when I hear that someone enjoys something, I like to quiz them and see for myself what aspects of it that make them happy; I mean after all, happiness is simply what everyone aspires to attain in life right?
So keeping all this in mind, let me share an anecdote to make the point I want to make.
Being a university student, you have the opportunity to meet a whole host of new people, and find out who they are and what they like – normally through the social medium of small talk. Even in my own course there are still many I haven’t really spoken to or really conversed with. But the other day, I had such an opportunity arise.
By luck or chance, I ended up walking with another student to class that I haven’t really took notice of before, so as social customs suggest you do, I decided to engage in small talk.
‘ What did you do this weekend?’ was the line I decided to open with; my Monday-morning brain was clearly in full conversational gear.
Having had what feels like over 10 million conversations of the same sort, it almost becomes second nature to know what someone might say, or at least, the brief ‘small talk’ answer they might give. But in this case – for the first time – I got the answer of: ” I just went through my weekend routine.”
Not really thinking about the answer they gave, (more thinking about how to continue the conversational flow to avoid any awkwardness) I promptly asked: “So what is your weekend routine then?”
A short unnatural pause soon followed, while seemingly a look of hesitation masked their face. Puzzled by it, I waited eagerly for the answer, and when they finally gave me the answer, it all came to me. I realised why.
” I went and played table-top wargames, that I normally go and play every weekend”
Afraid of judgment was what seemingly stopped him from telling me, something that I hadn’t considered when he gave his first vague answer. It was something that I had never really come across before, but it really spoke to me.
So obviously being me, I quizzed him on what he plays and does, and other details about it. I didn’t want to make them feel that I would pass judgement or have any negative reaction to it. After all, it’s something they enjoy, so who am I to say if it’s acceptable or not, or using more extreme phrasing, who am I to make them feel that it’s not acceptable to like it?
The reaction they showed, in a small way, upset me. Not because of the fact that they were unwilling to disclose their weekend plans nor because of the fact that they saw me as someone who might pass judgement. No, the reaction upset me because fundamentally, they were afraid of disclosing what brings them happiness, in fear of social judgement.
Why, as a society, have we established this air of caution around us?; always being careful of what we say in case others may look discouragingly at us based on our likes. BASED ON WHAT MAKES US HAPPY. Now obviously not everyone is afraid of sharing their interests, and equally not everyone would pass judgement on others based on their interests, but the fact of the matter is that we care so much about how others view us, that sometimes we hesitate in saying what we like. Just like my classmate did.
But it shouldn’t be like this.
I guess the point to be taken here is to never be ashamed of your likes and interests. Never be ashamed of your passions. Never be ashamed of your weekend plans or any plans of that matter. And fundamentally, never be ashamed of what makes you happy.