By Cinse Bonino
Let's get this straight. I am NOT stupid. It seems, however; that many people THINK that I am. Why? Because they make gross generalizations. Because I take the time to make sure that my hair, my skin, and my outfits are the best they can be, because I like to look nice, people assume that I don't have a brain. All it means is that I care about how I look. It doesn't mean that is ALL I care about. Come on, I get GREAT grades. Like I said, I am NOT stupid.
But, I must admit, I end up looking stupid. How does this happen? I do it to myself. I try so hard to make sure that I NEVER look stupid that I become obsessed with not appearing stupid. Here's what I do: when other kids, or even adults, are talking, I always feel like I have to say something. You know, I figure that if I stay quiet, everyone will assume that I don't KNOW what they are talking about or that I don't have anything intelligent to say.
If I'm so smart, why am I caught in this loop?
The truth is that sometimes, I DON'T know what they are talking about. Sometimes, I DON'T have anything else intelligent or interesting to add to the conversation. The SMART thing to do would be to ask a question, or to ask them to tell me more, but nooooooooooo, not me. I don't do that. It might make me look stupid. So what do I do? I say something really, really - you guessed it - something really S-T-U-P-I-D! This of course invites other people to believe that they were right all along. That I REALLY AM stupid. And, if by chance, there is someone who is part of the conversation who didn't start out thinking of me as stupid, guess what? They do now.
How could I be so stupid? Wait! Wait! I am NOT stupid. I know I'm not. So what is happening to me? No one is forcing me to talk. No, I just open my own mouth and drop out pearls of doom and disaster. Maybe I'm crazy, insane, or nuts. Maybe, but I am definitely NOT stupid. So why do I pressure myself to do this stuff? Why do I always believe that I need to speak to look smart? Why do I keep making a complete jerk of myself over and over again? If I'm so smart, why am I caught in this loop? More importantly, HOW do I stop???
I have to change something. As I see it, I can either try to change what I do: stop flapping my gums and just keep quiet. OR, I can try to stop obsessing about people thinking that I am stupid. You know, not WORRY about it, not make what other people think of me be SO important. I read this great book called, Playing Ball On Running Water. The title sounds about as impossible to do as shutting my mouth. But the book had a great idea. It talked about changing what you do instead of what you think or feel. It would probably be easier for me to keep quiet than to stop worrying about what people think. If I waited until I didn't care about what people thought, I might NEVER shut my mouth.