I am not a reassuring person.  I know this.  After spending my teenage and college years finding and nurturing those small parts of me that saved me from social homogeny, I am now at the point of proudly displaying them.  I have an odd taste in hats and t-shirts.  Most of said t-shirts are snarky, in an intelligent way (I hate those sophomoric slogans proudly displayed in white text on black t-shirts).    Being an adult has its perks–being an individual is one of them.

However, this does not make it any easier to accept certain eccentricities.  Some adults find self-expression in constant argument.  They find it fun!  I cannot imagine this lifestyle.  Other adults find self-expression in presentation of self and/or surroundings.  They revel in perpetual re-invention.  This is also something I cannot fathom; I like constancy.  It took me years to tell my parents that I hated the color of my bedroom and wanted to re-paint it.  I do not avoid change, but neither do I invite it.

My personal style aside, my individuality seemed to be most expressed in my bluntness.  For those who grew up with me, it’s still something that they’re getting used to, because when I was young that bluntness bordered on cruelty due to lack of social graces far more than a desire to wound.  It wasn’t until I went to college that I encountered people who knew me to be blunt and actually appreciated it.

I remember the first time someone said something directly to me about it.  The age of one of our non-traditional students was a topic of debate among the department.  Some were firmly in the mid to late twenties camp, others were in the early forties camp.  I got frustrated and said, “That’s it, next time I see her I’ll explain that no one can really tell and we’re wondering how old she is.”  Everyone at the table was horrified at the prospect and told me not to, except one.  She was the mother figure of the department and she was smiling.

“Only you could get away with that, Joie.”

“Huh?  What do you mean?”

“You’re blunt enough that from you, that is a simple question and nothing  more.”

This was accompanied by a head shake or two from her, while I considered this fact.  Did my friends actually appreciate my blunt nature?  This was new.

I did some thinking after that, and it was interesting to note how many of my friends, in less direct ways, had said something along those lines.  One had told me that he always came to me for an honest opinion, because he knew I would not withhold bad opinions for the sake of his feelings.  Another said that I was so much easier to be around because I didn’t “play the game.”  Yet another told me I gave off such an impression of openness and honesty that it was easy to feel comfortable coming to meet me the first time, despite the fact that we met online as anonymous forum members.

So, I suppose it’s the transparency that comes with being blunt that is so reassuring to my friends.  They know I will not hold back the truth, nor will I be running some game behind my words.  I am too direct to do that.  If, sometimes, things come out wrong because of it, they forgive the bad or bumbling phrasing.  They know I never intend harm, and will always try to figure it out the next time.

And on my end, it’s reassuring to know that they take me as I am.  Bluntness and all.

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