Getting prickly

I could talk about the fun I had this weekend: dinner with friends, time with Scott and Kelly, Mike’s birthday party, the best zoo trip I’d had in years . . . but I’ve been thinking about some other things, too, so maybe I’ll get back to that stuff later this week. I make no promises.

The past few weeks I’ve been mulling over the realization that, if someone tells me something I already know, I get kind of prickly about it. As if they are deliberately insulting my intelligence. I am not sure why I get so insecure as to respond that way, but I know that it’s not my most attractive characteristic. It’s interesting: I do believe that I have, as I have mentioned before, made good steps away from defining myself by my GPA or as “the smart girl.” And yet, stuff like this makes me realize I’m not as far away from it as I would like to think I am, because if I get even a hint of, “Someone is telling me something I think I should already know,” I get, well, not so nice. Even with my closest of friends, but especially when I’m in a situation where I’m already not sure of my footing. I want people to believe that I am intelligent, even when I doubt it myself, and so I lash out, making sure to define the things I know in great detail. Making it clear that, just because I don’t know everything about this particular issue, that doesn’t mean I’m dumb. I put the gathering of information on my own terms instead of being a good student.

I don’t do this in all information-gathering situations. There are plenty of times that people tell or explain things to me and I am happy to learn from them. There’s just something about the implication, either from my own mind or something I detect from the other person, that I should already know the information they are giving me. That I should understand this already.

I am guessing that it’s not something I can change overnight. I have been kind of peripherally aware of this for a while, but in the past few months I have noticed how unkind I can be when I find myself in those situations. Thus far, I have been pretty unsuccessful in curbing this tendency, but by posting this, I am allowing you to call me out on it. “Kari,” you can say, “if you are getting prickly because you think I think you should already know this, then just stop. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Stop worrying so much about what other people think. And pay attention to what I’m saying, because this stuff is pretty interesting.”

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