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It’s Okay To Say “Both:” Normalizing the inclusive answer, although unsatisfying.

Have you ever been asked to choose between two options but you realize you don’t want to, not because you’re lazy but because you like both options? And you can’t just say “both” because that isn’t the spirit of the question. Well I think we need to normalize saying “both.” Are you a cat person or a dog person? Both. I like both cats and dogs for different reasons, and I might even like one more than the other most of the time but that wouldn’t make me a dog person or a cat person. Do you want chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream? I want both, can I please get a scoop of both? 

In a world that is already constantly divided over all things big and small, perhaps it would behoove us to allow each other to not have to choose between things that we enjoy. One might ask if this is universally relevant as people often have favorites: favorite movies, favorite books, favorite sports. It is relevant because our favorites fluctuate. I might have favorite movies, but the kind of movie I want to watch at a specific time will be different each time. So asking if I like comedy movies or action movies more would be a struggle because I like both at different times. 

If you asked me one day if I prefer reading a new book or rereading an old favorite of mine, I might say reading a new book. Yet if you asked me the same question a different day, I might say rereading an old favorite. So asking me if I like new books or rereading old books better, I would say both. 

Now I understand that the “both” answer is unsatisfying and against the spirit of the question, but that is when the complexities of individual opinion can be explored. If you were to ask me if I prefer the chicken sandwich at Popeyes or at Chick-Fil-A better and I say “both,” you would probably be annoyed. So the best thing to do next is to ask what I mean by “both”. I would be able to explain that both are good in their own way and I would probably change my preference each day. I might say that while the Popeyes sandwich is greasier, but it does fill you up more. 

To rephrase the importance of accepting the “both” answer: we as a society like to categorize and rate things, but we as individuals have fluctuating preferences and opinions. Thus, it is healthy to answer with a “both” in these contexts. Additionally, when the “both” is allowed to be expanded upon and explained, there is more space for relationship building and communication growth. 

Is it wrong to ask if someone prefers one thing or another? No it is not, but it is helpful to remember the kind of pressure that can put on them. Is it wrong to have a strong opinion? No it is not, but it is once again helpful to remember the division that can cause in extreme cases. Don’t be afraid to enjoy different things at different times, and don’t ever be afraid to give the “both” answer.

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