Stop Pretending You Know What You’re Talking About
The other night I found myself in a cluster of new friends at a concert. The second band was sound-checking so we huddled together to talk about the previous band, what we thought about them, if we liked them and why, how they fit into the trend of that genre of music these days, where music was headed in general, and how everyone was starting to sound like The Black Keys. And when I say “we” talked about this, I mean that they talked about this, I said very little, and mostly listened and smiled. Because I don’t really know how to talk intelligently about the type of music we were seeing. I don’t even know what it’s called – Indie? Americana? Words I don’t know the definitions to.
At first, I felt ashamed at my lack of contribution to the conversation. “Everyone is starting to sound like The Black Keys? What does that even mean?” I thought to myself. I like be to useful in chats like this and add interesting facts that impress people, but on this topic, I really had nothing to say, and I grew fearful these new friends would not like me anymore. That they would move on to other clusters of people who did things like listen to vinyl records and would never listen to Taylor Swift turned up loud with the windows rolled down.
In my moments of insecurity, I began to remember a friend I really respect. The reason I respect her is because she never pretends to know things she doesn’t know. She asks the questions everyone else is too afraid to ask but we’re all deep down wishing someone would tell us the answers to. So I decided to channel this friend’s confidence in my conversation at the concert and finally asked what the guy meant when he said music is all starting to sound like The Black Keys. The answer turned out to be interesting (something about their producer who produces a bunch of other random artists), and I felt like I learned something I wouldn’t have leanred if I had continued to stare at the few of them and nod as if I agreed and understood all of their musical jargon.
The best part was, these new friends did not seem to like me less after I confessed my ignorance. They didn’t point their fingers at me and laugh; they simply answered my questions in a kind way, happy to have some knowledge to offer me. Their kindness invited me to be myself for the remainder of the night. And nights are always more fun when you’re being yourself instead of pretending or trying to be someone else.
It’s so easy to like people who are genuine and comfortable being themselves, and it’s so easy to forget that we are allowed to act this way too. I would much rather be friends with someone who is honest than friends with someone who’s trying to impress me. We can’t all know everything about everything, and that’s ok.
“Everyone is starting to sound like The Black Keys? What does that even mean?” I means they are incidental.
I can’t tell you how many times my so called friends have said, “Just be yourself”. I thought I was, and then I realized I wasn’t being who they thought I was. I was being myself, with my all my strengths and weaknesses out there for the world to see. The friends that accepted me, for me, are the ones I most enjoy being around. The ones that kept telling me to be “yourself” aren’t my friends.
I don’t think you have any trouble being yourself, I see it in your writing. Keep doing what you are doing.
Reblogged this on Tales From The Writer's Cave and commented:
Confession: in the past I’ve been told I can be a know-it-all, (maybe not so recent past). This blog hit home for me. I need to do more listening and less talking. It’s something I’m working on.
I can definitely be like that when the conversation is a different subject matter. Totally understand!
I love this! You’re so right. Your post reminds me of something that Brene Brown talks about in Daring Greatly–that it’s difficult to be vulnerable with others, but that we generally all appreciate and respect when others are vulnerable with us. Being the one to admit that you’re not sure or don’t understand puts you in a vulnerable spot, but it also puts at ease those who have the same questions. Lovely post, Andrea!
Oh, that Brene, she just knows what’s up! You’ve reconfirmed that I need to read Daring Greatly.
I can totally identify with what you have said. I had a similar situation happen to me last week. It is standard that a guy should know his cars right but I don’t know a lot about cars, specs and that sort of thing. But I was with a group of guys who were all mechanics and I was totally lost at what they were speaking about. What caught my attention though was one of the mechanics because every time he heard something he did not understand he asked. He was not afraid to ask and I liked that, I learned a valuable lesson that day which you have reinforced! Thanks……and great post!
Really great post! You had me nodding along.