not discussed in polite company

My dad taught me, there are three things you don't discuss: money, religion, and politics. Living taught me, there are three things that people just can't shut up about: money, religion, and politics. Ironic, huh?

How can the topics we're supposed to avoid be the only ones on our minds?

It wasn't always this way. In fact, I didn't even think twice about my father's comment when I was younger. If I needed money, I knew my parents would cover it. As far as religion goes, I went to church on Sundays with my family, some other kids went with their families and the rest didn't. Oh, and politics? The word wasn't even introduced to me until middle school and, even then, I didn't care much about it. What child did?

Somewhere between the end of eighth grade and the middle of freshman year in high school, all three of the top secret "hush hush" topics became defining characteristics in one's choice in friend groups and in-and-out of school activities. Soon, your sixth-grade chums all broke away into their own cliques and, even though there are way more reasons to stay in contact, you cease all communication.

There were signs that moved with the wind, along the way. Complaints about the choir rehearsal the night before from the students that attended the local community church slowly dissipated. People you usually didn't take a second glance towards, all of a sudden, knew your name and were not afraid to ask you to buy them ice cream or a bag of chips on your lunch account and weekend trips to the local amusement park were no longer affordable, without your parents paying for your season's pass. OH, and the absolute most uncomfortable switch in reality: t-shirts, pins, and hats promoting presidential candidates or tearing them down grew to be common attire to run into in the hallways.

It's funny how these same "hush hush" topics are the exact things being taught and quizzed on in the school system. They are the same topics teachers are frowned upon discussing, yet they do it every weekday and call it, "curriculum". I guess the topics that shall not be named aren't so "hush hush" after all...

There is a reason my father gave me a heads up on the forbidden fruits above. Once spoken on, the opinions one places into the atmosphere will not be forgotten. They are now the defining factors in one's everyday life. Was the joke you made at lunch funny or insulting? Well, the rich are "snobby" and everyone knows your grandfather has quite a bit of money, so, regardless of the laughter that followed, your joke will be viewed as degrading the people around you. Contrasting political beliefs with your go-to lab partner? Consider your partnership a thing of the past. You will now only see each other as the stereotypes implanted in society in regards to their political stance. Differing religious views? Time to go down the list and blame at least two religions per change in holiday celebrations, dress codes, etc.

My father muted the risky three from my vocabulary for my happiness. He wanted to ensure that I was seen for who I am and not what I have, follow or agree with. Once you open a discussion to the "hush hush" topics, you're opening yourself up to judgment, doors slammed in your face, friendships lost, opportunities decreased, and your overall impact on the world dimmed.

Why these topics are such sour subjects in society and how they became to be that way has many different answers. All I know is I'd rather be judged on the quality of my work and the effort I put into the actions I take, rather than being shunned for the backstory given to me when I was born.

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