It’s hard to contribute your perspective when sometimes your perspective can sound to others like bragging. We’ve all been there, standing with a group of people who are talking, wanting to contribute, but feeling that if we do they might think we’re privileged snobs. We’ve learned not to talk because we’ve had that first experience which shakes our perception of ourselves.
It doesn’t matter how it happens, but usually it’s a stranger that points out just how privileged we are. We begin stories by saying things like: “When I was probably nine years old, we were traveling somewhere in Europe” and already the eyes begin to roll. Or we try to compare experiences: “I learned how to ski in France so I’m not really used to all the powder here” – What a snob! There seems to be no winning.
Sometimes it’s fun to poke at this miscommunication, in my family we always point out these little slips and exaggerate them into how it probably comes off to other people: “Oh when I learned how to ski in France it was just so wonderful and beautiful – oh you must go some day, eventually I suppose. But really travel is the only way to better yourself!”
By poking fun at this, we are also pointing out how we sound, making it ridiculous, and slowly training ourselves not to say those things anymore. There are different adaptions to this barrier of snobbery.
Some people stop telling their stories; they refuse to open up because they know that they will be met with disdain. Others choose to open up to only their closest friends – the people who know their story and wouldn’t judge them for having lived in an international setting. And then there’s the “screamers” who are the honey badgers! The screamers refuse to change the way their talk just because other people have a problem with it – they figure that if you think they’re a snob then you’re not worth their time.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Those who choose silence don’t have to deal with the judgment, but this can also be isolating and putting up these walls may not let very many people get close to you. There seems to be more of a balance with the people who share with close friends, but it makes leaving those friends harder. The honey badgers may be pushing people away by coming off as bragging, but those who stick around will probably be with you forever.
Opening up to people about your life is hard enough, and it’s even harder when you know that because of your life people may see you differently. Be conscious about pushing people away or isolating yourself from friends, you should be able to open up to those who care about you, if they care, they’ll stay.