Sunday, February 6, 2011

Debate Me, Don't Hate Me

Quite frequently I have had people tell me that my vocabulary intimidates them. I use big words they say. They can't follow the discussion because I use too many words they don't get. I'm embarrassed by this. And confused. I don't think I use big words. And it's never my intention to intimidate people out of a discussion - quite the contrary - I love a good discussion, I want everyone to join in and lets have a big debate. I love a good debate.

I grew up in an environment where if I did well in school I was told it was because I got lucky or the teacher felt sorry for me. Hence, I worked hard to make sure that I wasn't "skating" by, I read, I studied, I put myself through college (and did damn well I might add), but always wondering if I was "skating by" or was earning those good grades.

I always felt intimidated in the presence of smart people. I always figured they knew that I was faking it - I wasn't smart enough to be in the same room with them. So when I hear people tell me that I make them feel that way - I don't like it.

I feel like I have overcome a lot of those early issues - I realize now that I am a smart person, but it's a self made smart. I pick up my vocabulary through a lot of my reading and crossword puzzles. I love reading. I was a History major in college and for those people who decry a liberal arts education - poo. I learned to read critically, think strategically and write persuasively during those history days. I haven't stopped either. I still read like crazy. I love to write. And I love to have a good debate. It keeps my mind sharp.

I do all of that because I enjoy it - not to lord it over others. So if we're in a discussion and you don't understand my words - please be like my friend Amy who stops me and asks, "Wait, what does that mean?" Because we all deserve to be in the room. No one is smarter than anyone else - we just perceive ourselves differently. I grew up with two sisters just as smart as me. One knows it, the other doesn't. One is happy, open to others, confident in herself. The other not so much - you figure out which knows their own intelligence and worth. You're as smart as you want to be. After all, if Homer can say, "Ah, lamentably no. My gastronomic rapacity knows no satieties." and understand it, so can the rest of us. D'oh!