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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Keeping up Appearances: One of the Worst Ideas Ever and The Kiss of Eventual Death

Let’s say you’re incredibly smart or knowledgeable in something specific, or maybe you have an inflated ego (don’t we all, ha!).

And what if: your student taught you a lesson, your child instructed you on something important, your so-called reviled enemy rightfully corrected you when you needed it? Would you resist learning the lesson, the instruction, the correction; just because the person doing it is of a perceived lower status than you?

What if you reached out for help and the only helper available was your student, child, or reviled enemy? 

I’ve been on both sides of these scenarios: the student/child/“enemy” and the one in need of some knowledge and learning. On the former, it hurts to see someone go through unnecessary pain because they would never take advice from a damn kid or greenhorn. On the latter, I was an ego-centric dumbass for refusing to ask a person to clarify, explain, give the definition, show me one more time; because I didn’t want to look stupid or be thought of as less than. 

I still sometimes struggle with the trap of keeping up appearances… and I know I’m not the only one.

We must surrender to the idea that: none of us have all the answers and you are not a self-made man/woman. You are the sum total of your decisions and the people who you chose to surround yourself with. And if you had all the answers, you wouldn’t be metaphorically ramming your head against a wall. 

Ask for help. That moment that you fear: “they’re going to think I’m dumb,” “the great and mysterious persona I’ve cultivated will vanish,” “they’re going to know I’m a fraud” —it won’t be nearly as bad when you actually look dumb, or your persona crumbles, or you’re revealed as a fraud because you refused to ask for help!! 

There’s nothing wrong with lacking certain pieces of knowledge but there is plenty of shame when one has no knowledge because they’ve chosen not to pursue learning or wisdom. The latter—deserving of empathy as is every human being—is a jackass who we should avoid (when the person is a repeat offender) and avoid becoming. You are the company you keep.