On feeling stupid (or not)

I cringed when I watched this Jimmy Kimmel video, a series of “man on the street” interviews asking people if they preferred the “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare.” And I hoped they had to interview 20 or 30 people before finding a handful that didn’t know they were the same thing.

I like to think I do a fairly good job of not looking stupid by not being afraid to sound a little stupid and just admit when I’m not fully up to speed. There are a lot of moving parts at my job, and I probably find myself saying “Can you refresh me on the details of how that works?” at least once a week.

The other day someone asked me point blank what I thought of the situation in Syria, and I had to just sigh. “I definitely wish I knew more about what was going on, but I’m afraid I haven’t been keeping up.” The person I was talking to proceeded to give me his opinion, which is what I think he was really getting at anyways. Win-win.

This week over dinner the topic of a North Carolina school board that banned Invisible Man. And my friend was talking about how crazy it was for this book to be banned especially since it was such a classic, and I said, “Wait, sorry.What’s it about? I mean, I know it’s about a man who can turn invisible…”

Whomp whommmp. (In my defense,  I bounced around a lot of different schools, so my required reading was all messed up. I never had to read Catcher in the Rye or Great Gatsby but I had to read Beowulf like four times.)

Nope. I’m a dummy. Maybe not as silly as the woman talking about how much better the ACA is than Obamacare, but I was pretty embarrassed.

I suppose my point was that at least I didn’t mind admitting that I didn’t know something rather than trying to bluff my way through it. I could have nodded and sipped my wine and googled the book later. But pretending like you know something you really don’t is pretty stupid.


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