I have a dirty little secret that I usually don’t share, particularly around the 4th of July and New Year’s: I don’t like fireworks. Sure they can be pretty! And the quiet, sparkly ones are my favorites. Overall though, fireworks are way too loud and sometimes too bright. On a nonpersonal level, I despise how much fireworks terrify animals. Why am I sharing this? Because 1) this is the day after the 4th of July and there were SO MANY fireworks yesterday, 2) I’m working on accepting my personal (unpopular) preferences, and 3) I hope that my voice will help give you the courage to accept your personal (unpopular) preferences (and 4) this is a somewhat anonymous blog so you and I will probably never attend a fireworks show together).
My Personal (Unpopular) Preferences
For many years, I tried pretending that I was happy about going to fireworks shows, then I would sneakily try to cover my ears and close my eyes every time a firework went off. My favorite fireworks shows were the ones I’d see from inside a car driving home because they were far away and silent. Thankfully in the past few years, more people have spoken up about disliking fireworks, and quiet fireworks are becoming more and more common. However, loud, bright fireworks shows are still the norm and highly popular. That’s why there are so many fireworks displays and why enormous fireworks stands exist! Despite disliking fireworks, I typically don’t tell other people because a lot of people really like them and it’s always a little scary sharing.
The past couple of years though, I’ve become a little braver as I’ve accepted myself. For a long time, I was convinced that there was something wrong with me that I didn’t like fireworks when it seemed that everybody else did. Now, I’ve come to accept that I just don’t particularly enjoy fireworks shows. It’s taken some work and probably some maturity, but I can admit to myself that fireworks aren’t my thing.
There are some preferences out there that are unpopular for good reason (e.g., ageism, sexism, and disliking chocolate), but for the most part, I think many of us have at least a few personal preferences that are counter to the mainstream. Personally, in addition to disliking fireworks, I also dislike beer, getting drunk, staying out late (even on special occasions), going to the movies, and playing softball/volleyball. Conversely, I am a huge advocate for recycling (borderline annoyingly so), like staying home, like tedious little tasks like organizing, and I LOVE chocolate. Acknowledging how I really feel and not making excuses or pretending has been hard because it’s hard to go against popular/mainstream opinions. It’s especially hard because I prefer to blend in and not draw unwanted attention to myself. However, I’m also much happier when I am true to myself. Even better, other people often speak up that they also don’t like beer and suddenly we’re a team.
Accepting and Living With (Unpopular) Preferences
So how do you accept yourself and live with a counter-mainstream preference?
- First off, give yourself permission to feel how you really feel, not how you think you should feel. This can take time. With beer, I tried for years to like it but just never developed the taste. Eventually, I just gave up and now happily drink my wine, ciders, and cocktails.
- Once you acknowledge that you have a counter-mainstream preference, come up with a backup plan. Personally, I don’t like drinking beer. This means that when I’m offered a beer, I don’t accept it and stand around holding it until it gets lukewarm and my husband eventually drinks it because he hates waste. Instead, I turn down the beer and either ask if water, cider, or wine is available (depending on the situation).
- Know that you’re not alone. There are approximately 7.6 billion people on this planet, so there’s an extremely good chance that at least 1 or 1 million other people feel the same way that you do. This means that your counter-mainstream preference probably isn’t as counter-mainstream as you might think it is. There are others out there who also dislike beer, going out to the movies, or playing summer sports. If you don’t speak up, you’ll never find these other people, which would be sad.
- To help you accept yourself, you also need to be patient with yourself. Particularly as a young woman who wants to (feels like she needs to) fit in, it can be really hard to state your opinion and be true to yourself. This is a learning process that takes time and you’ll undoubtedly find yourself in awkward situations where you’re uncomfortable. It happens to all of us and you’ll get through this. Think of it as a learning experience and try again next time!
- Think in positive terms. Instead of saying you don’t like beer, you can say you prefer cider/wine. Instead of saying you don’t like to go out, say you really enjoy being at home. Instead of saying you don’t like sports, say you like to cheer others on.
- If you share your counter-mainstream preference, state it with confidence. Instead of, “I’m not really? Into fireworks? But, sure? Let’s go?” you could say, “Fireworks aren’t really my thing. But thanks for inviting me!” Instead of, “Um, you know, I’d rather….maybe not…um…go to the movie theater…”, you could say, “I’ll wait for it to come out on Netflix! (or Amazon Prime or Hulu)! If you like it enough, maybe we could watch it together at my place!” Instead of, “Thanks for the beer” and then holding it all night, you could say, “No thanks, I’m fine. Could I have some water/cider instead?” (Yes, these are all real-life examples, not hypothetical)
- Do. Not. Make. A. Big. Deal. Your personal preference is your own deal, not someone else’s. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re an adult and mature enough to handle your own shit. This means that nobody else (other than a spouse) needs to accommodate you. If someone invites you over for a 4th of July party where there will be fireworks but you don’t like fireworks, you can 1) not go, 2) leave before fireworks start, 3) go inside and be helpful cleaning during the fireworks show, 4) come prepared with earplugs and sunglasses to watch the show, or 5) resign yourself to covering your ears and closing your eyes during the shows. None of those options include asking the host not to do fireworks. In another example, if you’re at someone’s house and they offer you a beer, you do not get to be upset if they do not have another beverage just because you don’t like beer.
- Finally, it’ll be okay. You should be you. If you don’t like something, it’s no big deal. It’s just who you are. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.
It’ll Be Okay
So, if you hide something that you particularly like or don’t like, but you’ve been hiding it or pretending, know that it’s okay and you are likely not alone. If you accept that little part of yourself, you’ll probably be a little bit happier. You also might discover that you’re not alone.
I know that I tried to look at the big picture about accepting my dislike of fireworks and turn it into accepting myself overall in this post, but really, I just don’t like fireworks and spent last night curled up on my couch with my husband and Way Pup watching a movie instead of a fireworks show.