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Photo by Flickr user Bernard Spragg NZ (Creative Commons license).

Confessions of a former loud mouth: it’s fun.

Confessions of a former loud mouth who has been through some shit and isn’t broken, but is riddled with often-paralyzing anxiety and self-consciousness: I wish I could be an uninhibited loud mouth again but dang, it’s hard.

I’ve come to the uncomfortable realization that I’ve been coddling my insecurities because I want people to like me. Ugh, could I be more pre-adolescent? Don’t be so preachy, I tell myself when I write these posts. You don’t know everything. You don’t know a fraction of everything. You are no expert. You are no saint. People aren’t going to listen to you. 

It’s both true and bullshit.

I’m reading a lot about social learning theory, or the notion that people learn from one another through observation. Sophisticated integration of cognitive and behavioral learning, or positive peer pressure? Call it what you will; it works: “Through observational learning a model can bring forth new ways of thinking and behaving” that lead to social change. This is how media influences us. This is how social media influences us. This is how art and its polar opposite, advertising, influence us.

In my personal experience, I can say beyond doubt that reading your posts, essays, articles, poems, stories, and yes, even your Facebook rants affects me at a fundamental level. Lest you think this loud mouth–or former loud mouth, or revised loud mouth–is inflexible in her beliefs, know that I regularly change my mind and evolve my thinking based on who and what inspires me on a given day. And that I have to listen as much as I speak, if my mind is ever going to expand. My “preaching” is not born of a closed mind. My mind, like my body in the practice of physical self-care (hiking, yoga, breath work) is open, eager, stretching and flexing its muscles, building a strong core.

What does this mean for being a loud mouth? It means, to me, that perhaps I should be willing to be perceived as an insufferable know-it-all because the possibility of swaying even one other human by being even a flawed model for compassionate, mindful living is worth it. It means that my fragility should be tended to, with the end goal of eliminating rather than coddling it, because the state of the world is more important than my comfort (and your comfort, for that matter. Does my preaching make you uncomfortable? Ask yourself why. I’m done policing my tone, remember?).

So yeah, I know some stuff and believe in some stuff, and I’m not going to sit on it out of some fear that you will think I’m arrogant, narrow-minded, or annoying for sharing it. If it doesn’t move you, maybe I said it wrong, maybe like all of us I’m still learning, maybe like all of us I need to listen more, and I will work on that. Or maybe you can’t be moved–and that’s your problem, not mine. But we all learn by observing others on their own journeys. We all present models of being for others to emulate or disregard, whether we write or blog about them or just live them. I choose to write and blog about mine with the hope of attracting the energy and facilitating the action of those who think like me, because we are (sad smile) stronger together.

I consider risk every day, and this is one I’m willing to take.