205 Days ’til 40: Distinguished Discourse

31 Jul

He was distinguished for ignorance; for he had only one idea, and that was wrong. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

I didn’t go to the lectures. My valet, who was more distinguished than I, went instead. ~ Witold Gombrowicz

As I say, I’m a discourse advocate. What form it comes is less important to me than the fact that there is discourse. ~ Jim Lehrer

Discourse is fleeting, but junk mail is forever. ~ Joe Bob Briggs

Good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue. ~ Izaak Walton

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.



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18 responses to “205 Days ’til 40: Distinguished Discourse

  1. sahbinahvioletflynn

    July 31, 2012 at 00:38

    Being authentic, the best you you can be is way better than trying to imitate someone else just to be part of the crowd. Aren’t we all a bit uncouth at times (trust me, I’ve had a house full of teenage boys who are sweet cream in the right instances, but when they get together, oh lord). Plus, I think people can just tell when you are faking it.

    • 400daystil40

      July 31, 2012 at 11:41

      Very true! I think teenagers are even better and identifying inauthenticity than adults!

  2. jensine

    July 31, 2012 at 01:39

    I am sure you are eloquent enough, just look at your blog

    • 400daystil40

      July 31, 2012 at 11:42

      hehe – my writing is much more eloquent than my speaking! 🙂

      • jensine

        July 31, 2012 at 13:28

        🙂 I am the same

  3. changeforbetterme

    July 31, 2012 at 02:37

    just being yourself is usually enough I have found. I don’t use large words either, not that I don’t know them. I just don’t feel the need to use them, my small words gets the point across just fine! One big thing I have learned is I never compare myself to someone else! We are all different and treat situations different. Doesn’t mean your ignorant or un-educated. Just means you are different! And different is a good thing!

    • 400daystil40

      July 31, 2012 at 11:43

      That is what I try to do! Some days I am more successful than others in applying it all!

  4. A Table in the Sun

    July 31, 2012 at 04:24

    Hooray for being yourself. Work and home are two different worlds. We have to associate with peers at work…..but they aren’t necessarily “our kind of people”. I find most of my friends on the trail (horses or hiking). By the way, others are probably just as uncomfortable as you. I’ve had people tell me that I sometimes look scary and serious at work, when I am the silliest person around… home.

    • 400daystil40

      July 31, 2012 at 11:44

      Yes, this is true – work and home do not necessarily mix. I like to think I am not scary and serious at work, but I find that people often fear my position and not me (i.e. – because I am in a position of leadership, they make assumptions about me and the “position” – which I find fascinating).

  5. The Quiet Borderline (back in hospital)

    July 31, 2012 at 19:56

    I think that in a lot of cases, you can find that a person has a lot more intelligence (wisdom and life experience) than compared to someone with a degree for example. They may not be intelligence in a factual way, but in many other ways.

  6. simon7banksS

    August 1, 2012 at 00:12

    People who talk all the time in the latest lingo are generally prisoners of it, unable to question its meaning or see where it’s ambiguous or misleading. People may use long or unusual words because otherwise their meaning cannot be communicated, or because they want to impress. Are simpler words available?

    • 400daystil40

      August 1, 2012 at 11:40

      Great perspective! They really are prisoners of it.

  7. Spider42

    August 1, 2012 at 10:09

    As someone who loves the sound of distinguished and clever vocabulary and banter and is considered a “smart guy” amongst his peers I think I do understand an aspect of what you’re going through – you see I’m not academic nor an academician in any way besides the fact that I read a lot and always have.
    The result of this reading and my turn toward writing and such however has given folks the desire to expect a certain persona, a certain kind of mental ability or an image or what-have-you. To be honest, that description you give of sitting on the couch with your guard down – maybe not a couch per-se but that scenario is one I’d find myself often at home in, I’m a simple creature of comfort and like to enjoy life for what it is.
    That said, I did find myself – like you – at some point wondering if I need to be more “classy” or behave and dress better all the time and improve my “couth-factor” as it were. But then I realised that I don’t have to impress anyone, I don’t HAVE TO live up to any such expectation – I didn’t create them, someone else did. And just because someone can throw around fancy $10 words around and sound pompous and think it makes them better than me or anyone else, well in my book that actually makes you a lesser person because you NEED to feel superior.
    I don’t say embrace slobbery and sloth and such, but I also say don’t get caught up in the show and formality of it all. Each of us has to find their own balance. There will be some things about yourself you feel have no need to change at all and others where you could stand to better yourself. But that’s your choice. Just like all the academicians made theirs. The question simply is who one wants to be and what makes you happy and gives you a semblance of peace with yourself.
    Once again you got me in a bit of a ramble! 😀 Been a bit I think.

    • 400daystil40

      August 1, 2012 at 11:43

      Your comment made me laugh! So I cannot embrace slobbery???? 🙂 😛 Yes, I think there is a balance and I just realize that I will never work for an organization that requires a business suit daily – I do not wear jeans to work, but I am also not going to wear something that has to be dry cleaned! At least not daily, special occasions are different. I think you are correct and we need to be ourselves and set our own expectations and live up to our expectations, not the pressure placed on us by others. 🙂

  8. Trinity River

    August 4, 2012 at 17:48

    I forget who said it, but I love the quote. “Be yourself, because everyone else is taken.”

    • 400daystil40

      August 4, 2012 at 22:48

      I LOVE this quote! Out of curiosity, which Trinity River does your name refer to? Is is the one in Northern California??? If so, it is beautiful! 🙂

      • Trinity River

        August 6, 2012 at 17:57

        I’m referring to the Trinity river that flows through North Texas. It is pretty also and home to the largest population of Alligator Gar in the world. A bit of scary trivia for you 🙂


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