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What People Change Their Minds About As They Get Older

It takes guts to admit you’ve changed your mind.

That’s because reversing your opinion on any given topic gets such a bad rap. It can make you look fickle or make people doubt you know your own mind.

As F Scott Fitzgerald said: “At 18 our convictions are hills from which we look; at 45 they are caves in which we hide.”

If you’re in politics, changing your mind gets tarnished with the derogatory label the backflip. Ah, the dreaded backflip. The fatal move that supposedly kills all your credibility. The "climbdown" that allegedly shows poor leadership.

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I say it shows something else entirely. It shows you’ve considered, analysed and ultimately been convinced. It also demonstrates other commendable qualities.

They’re the sort that are sorely lacking in today’s increasingly polarised discourse: the humility to prove you’ve listened. The empathy to show you’ve exited your own echo-chamber. The open-mindedness to relinquish any residual stubbornness and allow yourself to be persuaded by compelling argument. The maturity to dismount that high horse you’ve been straddling since university.

Outrage culture robs us of nuance, compromise or leeway. It’s unforgiving of people who sway.

The backflip! The climbdown! Fickle! Floor crosser! Don’t know if you’re Arthur or Martha! The vocabulary around mind-changing is so loaded with judgement, it’s a wonder anyone admits to it.

I was surprised, then, when I casually asked the question on Twitter, that I received more responses than any question I’ve casually asked on there in the past 12 months.

Reading through them, it struck me:

It isn’t just flipping a strident political position that quantifies as changing your mind. It’s our fluid identity.

The very essence of what it is to be human. Our complexity encourages inevitable sea-changes in our views, preferences, pet peeves, lifestyle, self-perception, tastes and even taste-buds. We’re a million different people from one day to the next.

Here are some of the best responses I received:

Some celebrities improve with age

Some don't

And some may or may not actually be celebrities; we'll leave that to you

Taste-buds

This one came up surprisingly often. It’s less the taste-buds changing, according to ear, nose and throat doctor Steven Parnes, and more about taste-buds dulling. Ageing, nerve injury in the mouth and certain medications all make our taste less sharpened as we mature. That’s perhaps why so many of my Twitter respondents are now finally eating their veggies.  And some fruit. And a lot of beetroot, apparently.

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THE BIG ISSUES

The absolute classic tax flip

It’s the oldest flip in the book. Socialist at uni, conservative by middle age...

Number three on this mini list will melt your heart...

Self perception

The confidence to make a change

Gratefulness

animal size

My own change of heart

Someone who travelled in the opposite direction

And finally…

Featured Image: Disney