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Follow Your Arrow

We fear speaking up because we imagine there is some great social price to pay for our honesty.

If our ideas and insights strike others as being self-evident, perhaps they will sarcastically call us “captain obvious.”

If our convictions seem a bit strong, perhaps others will label us “bull-headed, dogmatic, and close-minded.”

If our opinions contradict the consensus reality of mainstream thinking, perhaps we’ll be stigmatized as “weirdos, pesudo-intellectuals,” or, even worse, “conspiracy theorists.”

If our complaints disrupt people’s comfort and convenience, perhaps we’ll be branded as “troublemakers.”

The bad news is that our suspicions are true. If you speak up on any issue, there are at least two things that are guaranteed to happen:

1) You will be misunderstood.

2) You will be correctly understood and still negatively judged for what you say.

The good news is that the same outcome is true for those who remain silent. If you censor your true feelings on any issue,

1) You will be misunderstood.

2) You will be correctly understood and still negatively judged for what you didn’t say.

In Follow Your Arrow, Kacey Musgrave illustrates this inherently offensive nature of self-expression:

If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
If you don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a whore-able person
If you won’t have a drink
Then you’re a prude
But they’ll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one

If you can’t lose the weight
Then you’re just fat
But if you lose too much
Then you’re on crack
You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t

If you don’t go to church
You’ll go to hell
If you’re the first one
On the front row
You’re self-righteous
Son of a-

Can’t win for losing
You just disappoint ’em

Audre Lorde wrote, “Your silences will not protect you.”

Zora Neale Hurston warned, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

A life of self-censorship provides no luxuries that are lost to a life of self-expression.

This is good news because it means you are as free to speak as you are to remain silent.

So why not follow your arrow?

Say what you feel
Love who you love
‘Cause you just get
So many trips ’round the sun
Yeah, you only
Only live once

Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

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