The other day I saw a little girl, not more than three-feet tall, talking to the empty street. It made me think of my friend Jared, a friend who hadn’t crossed my mind since I was seven. He was a friend that only I could see.
Some people had one imaginary friend. I had five — Barbie just didn’t do it for me. Some kids didn’t talk about their imaginary friends at all, while others talked about them in a slightly unhealthy way. A girl in my carpool, after arriving to my house, always informed me where in the car Witchy-Witch was sitting; I found this extremely annoying as she always got the other window seat. But still, I sat in the middle, not telling her or Witchy-Witch that she should move. How could I understand two people who weren’t me?
But in reality, she probably wouldn’t have cared. We were five. If you called me fat I would have giggled; now I can’t say the same. At that age we exuded confidence — we knew what we wanted. If my mother asked what I felt like for dinner, I responded, “macaroni and cheese.” Now it takes me a half-hour to look at a menu.
As we got older, we began to care a little more about other’s opinions, unsure if our own were correct. When I was seven, a girl found out about my five imaginary friends. She called me weird and whispered about it to all her friends at naptime.
I cared about her opinion, so I began ignoring my five friends. Somewhere along the rope of time and elementary school hallways we gained inklings of insecurities — we needed opinions. We needed to know why we weren’t being picked first for recess kickball.
By our 20s, many of us have gained back our confidence. But just because we may not need opinions doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get them, and sometimes it’s hard not to care.
No one likes to get a nasty email ripping into one’s writing or what they decide to write about. An athlete’s game will begin to decay the more a coach’s opinion begins to cloud their mind. A relationship’s happiness will be tainted by a parent’s quick judgment.
Too many people observe a situation when they inhale and give their opinion as they exhale. The person you are inflicting your opinion on may not need to hear it. They may have already heard it, or they may just figure it out themselves.
Opinions aren’t bad and sometimes they are necessary — I’m giving you mine right now. But not every opinion is crucial, and maybe if we practice filtering our opinions, only the necessary ones will be said.
Maybe your athlete will get better without that critique, and he’ll find his own way of scoring that winning goal. Maybe your friend’s boyfriend isn’t your type, but she could be falling in love.
So why don’t we go back to the days when we talked to ourselves and didn’t care? Giving someone an opinion doesn’t make you more important and doesn’t give you a claim on whatever they accomplished — in the end, they did it themselves.
Maybe it’s time to stop trying to make everyone into ourselves, telling them how we would go about it. By the looks of it, they did a pretty good job by following their own instincts thus far.
And for those of you getting these unsolicited opinions, just walk away and follow your heart. It got you to Yale.
Chloe Drimal is a senior in Calhoun College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.