Thursday, January 31, 2019

What a dumb thing to say

Have you ever witnessed a stranger remark something and thought it to be a dumb thing to say?

I sometimes ponder that kind of sayings years later and realize that I was wrong: I was in fact the dumb one.

I couldn't see why it made sense at the time, either because I was not experienced enough, or because I was stuck in a certain mindset, or just didn't give it enough thought.

The world is beautiful
These days, realizations like these make me incredibly happy - the world suddenly grows more beautiful. 

And it can off-hand remarks, not intended to be deep, but just a reflection of a large sum of experiences.

For instance, one of the adults in the kindergarten my children attend once explained to me that you cannot really change the children in the kindergarten. They are who they are. But you can help them be the best version of themselves.

That really stuck with me. I think it sums up how to approach other people - we should always help them be the best version of themselves. Imagine a world where your partner, colleagues, managers, customers, students, shop assistants, everyone had the aim of helping you be the best version you could be in a given situation.

That's beautiful.

And the ability to see this is truly one of the gifts of growing older. I can understand things I couldn't understand before.

And when I get surprised by people who I believe should think better saying something that does not seem right, I try to spend my brain cycles on why they'd reach that conclusion rather than how wrong they are.

I'm finding that works really well when trying to come to terms with politics. Today I'm more interested in the politician than the party.

Internet culture
I love reading, I guess I am really a curious person. The internet is full of forums with people discussing all sorts of things, in great detail, donating their personal time to illuminate the rest of the world with their arguments and experiences, from a point of view that is hard to reproduce. For instance, I don't know how it's like to be an 18 year old girl. Or an investment banker.

But seeing things from their perspective is valuable. And I have participated myself too. Over the years, I must have written several thousands of posts here and there.

The interesting thing is that for me, replying makes the man-that's-dumb mistake harder. I don't like being wrong, so once I start a reply, somewhere an unconscious part of me starts wondering if I am really right, or whether there could perhaps be meaning somewhere in the words that seem so dumb.

In the end I often end up not clicking the submit button.

In some cases I have gone ahead, only to realize months later, to my great agony, that I was in fact the dumb one.

But when I then go back and look at the discussion thread again, I can see that often, it's not really a case of two people being stupid to each other, but more a resolvable failure of communication.

As I grow older and start condensing hard-earned truths myself, I'm starting to experience it from the other end - people who obviously think what I say is dumb because they do not appreciate the context. It can be really annoying if it's people I care about.

I need to work on my communication.

The reverse situation
In some sense, the reverse situation is much worse. I and everyone else think something sounds profound and correct and smart, only to realize, years later, that it is in fact pretty dumb.

When I do that myself, I'm somewhat happy that I can now see my mistake. But honestly, seeing other people do it makes me depressed.

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