Somewhere along the line, I learned that other people have motives and opinions and judgements, and I stopped caring about them.
Instead, I evaluated myself. Sometimes a little too harshly, sometimes a little too conservatively. I am confident in myself. I know things about myself. I know things about myself that no one else knows, needs to know, wants to know, or should know.
I'm happy with that.
My one downfall, if I had to figure it, is intelligence.
See, if enough people tell you something enough times, this little outside worm of opinion squishes into your brain and makes little baby worms, and nobody likes that. Nobody enjoys brainworms.
I'm good at shrugging things off, but I once had this opinion of myself as educated, intelligent, and intellectual. I was driven, still am, and have always been passionate about learning. Learning anything. Learning everything. Not just context, but how to convey it, too. How to USE it.
So when one person who should know me the best treats me around everyone else as though I am less smart, less capable, less likable for it, it spreads like wildfire. Suddenly everyone, for years after the fact, treat me like...well, like I don't know what I'm talking about. Like I can't contribute. Like I am dumb. I'm written off before they even hear me.
But it isn't my fault, according to them, because not everyone can be a genius. The guys, they're geniuses. The people with graduate degrees, they're geniuses. The people who fit the program and pay the money - they are geniuses. Paper makes a brain.
Or maybe it IS my fault, according to these folks, because I could have gone ahead and finished up college, too. I chose not to. I pursued a passion instead. Only idiots do that.
I know the score. I know the insecurities these elitist behaviors imply. I know worth isn't calculated from strangers, friends of friends, or even my husband.
But you know what? After years of it. Years. You start to think of yourself as stupid.
Unable to keep up.
And when you do speak up, you have that nagging, pulling feeling that you don't belong in the conversation, and you should back out now. So you apologize.
YOU APOLOGIZE, for having INPUT. For SPEAKING.
I don't know where I stand anymore, but I suppose the simple fact that I am writing this means that I do, after all.
I know I am smart.
I know I don't have to flex my muscles or spout out big words to prove it to anyone.
I know they would write me off no matter how I spoke.
So yeah, I'll go ahead and shut up. Because I may not have you to believe me, or my husband, or my friends, or the people I work with. I may not have anyone to talk to, to explore ideas with, to discuss topics with, I may not have anyone at all.
But I'm still me.
I'm still of above average intelligence - nothing has changed in my brain since I met you.
And your stamp of approval doesn't mean shit to me.