The Apology Reflex All Intellectuals Have
If you’re like me, then you lived your life, or most of it, learning how to ‘apologize.’ Of course, apologizing isn’t a bad thing. Hurting someone and then apologizing is a good thing to do. However, apologizing for bruising an ego? Not so much.
Since I was young, I’ve been a ‘bright’ mind. I excelled in all the subjects I liked, and did well in those I didn’t. I read books ALL the time. I started writing at a young age. I was a pretty good artist too. In a lot of respects, I was ahead of my peers.
But I learned early on that I had to ‘apologize’ for knowing words that my peers didn’t, and for knowing too many things that my peers didn’t. I realized I intimidated people, especially guys, without ever meaning to. And so, I started to ‘apologize.’
I’d carefully construct sentences in order to not offend or intimidate, or harm someone’s ego; sentences that were too eloquent often received some form of backlash. ‘You’re so proper.’ ‘What does that word even mean. Did you make it up?’ ‘Can you talk like a normal person?’ So I learned to soften my consonants, and to not over pronounce.
I learned to disagree ‘lightly’ for fear of, again, harming an ego. Correcting someone stating an incorrect fact became a fear. Answering too many questions in class became a fear, so I learned to time my answers, and ignore the uncomfortable silences that followed questions only I knew the answer to.
I’d listen patiently while someone boasted about their knowledge, knowing damn well that they didn’t know much. At least, not compared to me. Sometimes, I’d even pretend not to remember certain facts, giving the other person time to say it before me. Because showing that I know too much had become a fear.
I’d be patient while they felt the need to over explain how superior their ‘knowledge’ was to mine. Because, let’s face it, I was a book-worm and ‘only so much knowledge can be found in books.’
I did all of that under the impression that I was being humble. I’d always thought that being humble is a virtue. But if being humble forces you to apologize for who you are, then it doesn’t seem like such a virtue. If you’re someone who finds themselves constantly apologizing for your intellect, then here’s what I need you to do:
Be unapologetically you, even if it does mean harming egos, and intimidating people. You are not responsible for protecting people’s fragile egos.
Here’s list to help guide you onto the path of unapologeticness (this is definitely not a word.)
- If you’re friends with someone who forces you to apologize, open up about your experience. If they don’t respect it, then you’re better off having friends who you don’t need to be ‘dumb’ around.
- Learn to be you, without apology.
- Find new, intellectual friends.
- Watch out for the braggart, and people who always redirect conversations to them. Not only are they not fun, but chances are their egos are fragile. Your intellect will scare them.
- Don’t be afraid to brag. You’ve achieved what you have for a reason (because you’re awesome!)
- Don’t forget to be humble…a little. You know what you achieved. You’re no longer apologetic about it. So there’s no reason to constantly brag, because your ego isn’t fragile. It doesn’t need constant affirmation.
- Repeat this chant: I am not responsible for people’s fragile egos. Chant this at least once a day. Repeat multiple times if you’re surrounded by idiots.
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