Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man. ~ Benjamin Franklin
An essayist is a lucky person who has found a way to discourse without being interrupted. ~ Charles Poore
The other day I was thinking about conversations I have with the people that surround me. I was also thinking about the difference between the persona that I portray in the comfort of my own home and the persona that I portray at work. I must confess, I am not very distinguished in either setting, though I am remarkably less distinguished at home.
Sometimes I feel out of my element around individuals who speak so eloquently. They use large words and deep thoughts and seem to exude confidence and academia with each breath they take. I like to think of myself as more “down to earth” more “reachable by the masses” – that sounds much better to me than “ignorant” or “under educated”. Truth be told, there are times when I have very much enjoyed participating in challenging academic discourse whose nature required me to incorporate fancy occupational terms. I was not left behind, even when I might have chosen simpler words with my own personal contributions.
I always kept up, and I am a highly critical thinker, a highly analytical thinker – often learns ahead of my peers in understanding the steps necessary to solve a problem or navigate any number of tough situations. I love to be challenged, I love to think. I just struggle with huge vocabulary words. Yet, surprisingly, I still managed to do well on my verbal GREs, or at least better than the majority of Americans, so I suppose I am not as illiterate among the academics as I often may feel.
And then I return to my images of myself at home….. on the sofa, drinking a soda that is just a little too carbonated for my tolerance…. and finding that there are sounds resonating from more ends of my body than one…. (some with quite good tone)……. and it makes me wonder….. even though I manage to hold my own, how would these people react to me if they saw me in the context of my own home? Would they find themselves looking in a mirror, as they too actually let their guard down? Or, would they be horrified that I hold a professional position of leadership given my lack of couth?
Today, 205 days ’til 40, I have decided that I just need to be myself. Yes, I will push myself to engage in dialogue with my peers in a way that encourages mutual respect. That said, in the moments when I feel as small as a mouse because I am not keeping up with the latest lingo, I will forgive myself and know that, in the end, I am still a qualified professional, even if I am not always the most eloquent one.