What I Will Do to Not Look Stupid

When I was undergoing training in de-escalation techniques for working with children with behavioral challenges, we learned that most people become angry or disruptive just to avoid appearing stupid, especially in the classroom. Well, some days I will do just about anything to not appear dumb, unintelligent, or lacking. 

I haven’t felt the need to write. Either what I wanted to write about felt too personal, or I was too happy. Happiness doesn’t make for good writing. Happiness is jumping off a dock and sticking your head out of a car skylight (don’t tell me they’re called something else). Happiness is best lived and enjoyed, with maybe a picture or two to prove to your future self that you really felt free and that the sun came out. Happiness doesn’t ask you to slow down and contemplate why beads of water stay on ice cold bottles in commercials, but runs down the glass on your own drink. Or question your existence, intelligence, or life purpose. Why? Because you’re too busy taking one more bite of delicious pie. 

The pie is not a metaphor. I was actually eating pie.


I got a new haircut, discovered I’m still terrified of glass bridges, I figured out how to pull better espresso shots, I took a trip to Portland with Jesse for our one year anniversary. and I held on a little tighter to my thoughts. They seemed like that $100 bill in your purse you got for your birthday in a card that you know you can spend however you want, and you let it stay in your purse for just a little bit because it makes you feel powerful. A piece of paper makes your purse seem heavier. I became self-inflated with my own ideas, and in the process became stingy in my words.
“Do you realize how stupid you sound/look?”was a cutting phrase that echoed through my brain. Underlying this phrase, was the idea that if I stopped talking or writing and just kept my thoughts “pure” in my head where no one could comment, disagree, or criticize that I would be safe and could still consider myself to be smart.

Have you ever found yourself at an Asian restaurant where everyone is using chopsticks, and there’s no forks, and you’re really hungry and kind of embarrassed that you can’t eat anything. And your sweet husband tries to teach you how to use chopsticks while you frantically try to flag down a waitress to beg for a fork. Then you worry that you look dumb and culturally insensitive, when really you’re just tired and hungry. Well, it’s happened to me. I felt like an idiot.

“Don’t be a fork in a world of chopsticks. You’ll feel like an idiot”

-What my fortune cookie should’ve said.

Fear of appearing stupid. It’s uncomfortable. It’s consuming. And you suddenly and quickly forget to care or see other people. We’ve all had a “friend” who really just made us feel worse about ourselves and who pushed us down to make them look better. Sometimes we’ve been that “friend” to someone else because of our own insecurities.


I think back to this weekend and getting to see the Multnomah Falls for the second time in my life. The waterfall seemed to reach all the way to the sky. The sun lit up the edge of the cliff making it look like it had been haloed. It was awe-worthy. And for a moment I said “Thank you” to a creator who made and makes beautiful things in this world.

I’d rather be filled with awe than consumed with the fear of appearing stupid.

You’ve got to look outside of your own thoughts to gain perspective, and I suggest looking to Jesus, because he was not a God who silences people because the world thinks they’re dumb. Marginalized. Female. Too poor, too rich. Jesus gave a voice to those who were willing to humble themselves and see Him for who he really was instead of obsessing over their own appearance.


What has filled you with awe this week? What moments have made you forget your own petty insecurities and embraced a new perspective? Who do you need to stop hanging out with because they make you feel “less than”? Can you consider that you might be that person?

 

Sincerely,

 

the girl who finally sorta learned to use chopsticks for about 10 minutes before giving up completely because she was starving,

 

Katrina

 

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