Getting Opinionated

Posted by Curtis Miller Curtis Miller

Lately I’ve been wondering what the hell happened to the old me. Something has insinuated itself into my being and changed me; changed the way I think and feel. I don’t want to sound too cliché here, but it all started 10 months ago when I began learning Ruby on Rails.

At that time, I was fresh out of a master’s program and the defense world, having previously worked for Raytheon Company. I was purposefully unemployed (gasp!) and I was intent on learning Rails while trying to create something useful. This was the direction I wanted to take my career. I didn’t want a stodgy 40-year stint at some boring company. I wanted every day to be fun, challenging, exciting… uh… then I had to get a job, cause a savings account doesn’t last forever.

When I re-entered the workforce I didn’t realize how much my personality had evolved. Working with Ruby on Rails had reawakened a passion for software that had been dormant for several years. That same passion enabled me to, once again, care. At first it was related to programming, but soon it was expanding into other areas of my life. I was starting to care, to have opinions, and I wanted to discuss those opinions with people.

You’d be surprised (or not) by how many people just don’t care – about anything. I don’t think I was quite to this point, but there were a lot of things I ignored. People have told me that my new communication style is “direct” or “blunt”, but I don’t look at it that way. I am simply expressing my opinion openly and honestly. Discuss it, refute it, agree with it, whatever… You listen to mine and I'll listen to yours. Maybe we'll agree and maybe we won't, but at least we're communicating.

Several people I’ve talked with recently seem to have a hard time with that communication style. They either don’t know what to say or they get defensive and/or irate. This happened recently and I couldn’t help but think of a line from the movie Jerry Maguire, where Cuba Gooding Jr. says something like “You’re getting mad and I think we’re just starting to talk.” I thought that line was just humorous before, but I believe it means when people are emotionally invested in the dialogue they begin to care.

I have also become a little more brazen. I’m not as reserved when expressing a more radical opinion and I am more likely to call bullshit when I see it. Yet another thing some people don’t appreciate… Imagine, though, if we were able to actually cut through the BS and talk openly and honestly about things. Think about that the next time you’re buying a car, negotiating a salary, or fighting with a loved one. A pipe dream? Maybe…

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