Sometimes you feel like one amongst many. Like you only blend in and no one truly knows you. There are times in life when that can work to your advantage…those still waiting to be picked for kick ball, those waiting at a bus stop on a late night, those still sitting in the restaurant waiting for the rain to end. However when it comes to your talent and unique features and traits, there is nothing worse than being made one of the crowd when you have worked hard to be an individual.
I had that happen to me today. In simple terms someone who ‘knows’ me and my skills, talents, abilities made a generic statement where what I have done for over twenty years was completely ignored. I felt angry, and disappointed. It was as if the last decades of my life and work were for nothing. I was so stunned I was left silent. And for me to be without words is a defining moment.
After I blew off steam by yelling at my cat, I blew off more steam walking around. Now that it is several hours later, my perspective is clearer and I have a completely different reaction. WHAT AN IDIOT! It hit me that not knowing my strengths, skills, and accomplishments was something this person was not interested in at all. They made the generic statement to sound profound or intelligent, and all they really ended up sounding was stupid. They should have known better from all the conversations we have had, which tells me they were not listening. They have had an opportunity to observe what I have been doing for years, which tells me they didn’t care enough to absorb the information and retain it. They should have thought before they opened their mouth, which tells me they were more concerned with impressing than understanding. My first reaction was all about me, my calmed down reaction was all about them.
I am still disappointed in feeling minimized, but more so in that I let this ‘idiot’ impact my mood. Eleanor Roosevelt made a great statement: No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. And silly me, I had given this person permission without even realizing it. I had gotten upset when really they didn’t know me, eventhough they claimed to. I have worked with this person for over four years, and still they had no idea who I was or what I have done.
So who is the problem here, me or the person who made the stupid statement? They acted like they knew me, but in reality they had no idea, or more accurately they chose to have no idea. Their statement made me realize I had paid more attention to them than they had to me. Some people are ignorant, who can then be educated and hence no longer ignorant. Then there are those who are stupid, and will always choose to stay that way.
So next time you have an opportunity to get to know people, take the time to see each individual petal instead of only noticing the bloom. Each individual has a part to play, an element to bring to the big picture and by ignoring that contribution you simply make yourself look stupid. The smart people…the really, really smart people have learned to value the contributions those around them make, and acknowledge those assets. The stupid people want to impress when all they are really doing is making themselves look even more stupid. Better to appear stupid, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Choose to be ignorant, it’s curable!