About a week ago, well before the snowstorm that hit our lovely Kingdom, I was sitting with a group of people who were giving their “expert” opinion about something I know all too well about “language”. Now I am not saying that I’m the next Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Virginia Wolf, or Jane Austen , but I can safely say that I know the language well enough to tell when someone is saying something wrong, and that was exactly what one “expert” was doing. This person kept using a word incorrectly.
I politely correct him, but I was completely ignored. In fact I was even told that the English language is complicated and that I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about. Seeing it was pointless to argue further, I stayed silent after that point of the conversation. However, I was boiling on the inside. I was not angry about the incorrect information itself. After all, if a person insists on being wrong let him be wrong. such an error is not going to affect my life personally. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder what was it about my appearance, my image, or my words that made this person just assume that I am not wise enough to understand what I am talking about. Are neither my degree in literature, or my school education, or my career as a copywriter and editor, or all factors combined enough to put me in the category of someone who knows the language well enough?
It then hit me that this image I seemed to have projected is the result of my modesty, or rather a paradox of modesty people in our society are conflicted with.
After all, I come from the generation where we were brought up to be modest. When we were kids, we were often told to not show off. We were taught that it is rude to say we are beautiful even if we believed we are. We were also instructed not to tell our friends we got higher marks than them in school. The smartest kid always got picked on and the prettiest got envied , and that is how we developed the idea that we should be modest. As adults, even if we knew for a fact that we are amongst the best at what we do, we refrained from saying so. If we are in fact beautiful we tend to prefer not to point that out.
Until the conversation I mentioned above, and I need to point out it was with an engineer, I honestly believed that modesty was the way to go. I guess people like me continue to be in the corner waiting for the world to know about their skills and qualities, until we wake up someday and we realize that someone worthless, pointless, less smart, and less attractive takes the spotlight. In my case, I was being told I’m not an expert on the English language to correct an engineer. Now, with all due respect to engineers. I wondered how this engineer would have felt if I corrected his knowledge in engineering, or is it that engineers automatically know everything. Many in our society seem to think so. PHD holders have a worse case of this syndrome, try correcting a professor of anything , and the society will frown on you. Someone will panic and tell you “He’s a professor , he knows a lot. How can you correct him”
It is in instances like this one that a modest person might say “wait a minute, maybe this modesty thing is not really working.” , and I am saying that now. I am saying that it doesn’t work.
Following this recent, but rather late discovery, I started looking around me more, and this is what I found. I found that if a girl kept saying that she is beautiful in every occasion she got , something interesting happens , people believed it. I even once heard a guy talk about his blog as if it were the next Virginia Wolf novel, and he was then introduced in front of me in an event as a professional blogger, even though his blog only had ten entries. I saw people become presidents, vice presidents and leaders of organizations when they did nothing tangible. So, I realized that they learned what I am learning now.
Let’s face it ladies and gentlemen, the notion of let your actions speak about you is so old school. In a world where most people are posing and where the social media allows you to be anything you want to be, you should show off and you should speak about you.
If you don’t , you will sit in a corner while someone less educated then you criticizes you and says things like “you should learn this and learn that” This person will accuse you of being not good enough while comparing you to someone who had done nothing in their life. . So Let’s start showing off. It seems that is the only way to go right? Or maybe not. I’m not sure. Maybe a real achiever is so much better than that!