Is being smart so important? Is it being two-faced to suppress your thoughts?
By – Rock Kitaro
Date – August 14, 2012
“Europe” By Yoko Kanno Press Play
A friend of mines told me a while back that I seemed like the kind of person who acts a certain way depending upon the kind of people I’m around…
Is that a bad thing? I’m honestly just asking.
She went on to explain that people should just be themselves and do what they want, no matter what kind of environment they’re in.
Now before you jump all over her, I’ll go ahead and explain that she isn’t talking about the “being real” complex. She’s talking about me specifically. Basically, she was saying that I have a tendency to be really nice funny and jokie with some people but when I’m around others I’m very quiet, reserved, serious and generally non-engaging. Meaning when I’m around a certain type of people, I don’t want to converse with them. I give them short answers to any questions they have and go on about my business. My friend thinks this a no-no.
I went ahead and admitted to her that I do in fact do this. I’m aware of it and there’s a reason as to why I do it. My stepdad said it best… “Rock, you don’t have to like someone to simply get along.” And this world, I’m prepared to deal with unsavory people if it’s necessary to accomplish my goals.
That being said, there are a lot of qualities that I just don’t like. My friend observed me in an environment where some of my peers don’t exactly value such things like improvement. Some of my peers don’t really seem to care how well you’re doing or if you’re having a good day. In fact, I once did an experiment where I went the whole day looking pissed off. Surprisingly, my peers suddenly wanted to be around me and asked a whole lot of questions, like they cared. But if you seem like you’re in a good mood and everything’s going all right for you…to hell with you. Not everyone is like that, but most are. And all it takes is most. (joking about that last part)
That experiment was done to confirm a theory that I already had. In fact I found out that I’m not the only one with this theory. But to actually see it in person was truly remarkable. The theory is that some people don’t want to be around others who are subconsciously perceived as a threat to their own self-esteem. These threats that we are…We’ve done nothing wrong, you see. But still…A threat is always an enemy whether its intentions are innocent or not. Like the black ships off the coast of Japan simply wanting to establish trade.
But seriously. I think we live in a world where too many use the word “friend” too loosely, almost as bad as we use the term “love”. I have hundreds of acquaintances…but can count on one hand the amount of friends that I have. And some of my friends, don’t stay friends for very long. That doesn’t make them enemies or bad people, but just not to my liking. And that’s all right. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
So yeah…I act differently depending upon where I’m at and the people around me. If I’m surrounded by a group of people who are low-key, reserved and unenergetic, I’ll probably be the same and keep most of my jokes and opinions to myself. If I’m surrounded by upbeat, warm hearted energetic people like myself, then yeah, I’ll spread my wings and fly with you. Birds of a feather and all that. I believe this is what they call “cultural assimilation.”
Also…If you come to know me long enough…the chances are extremely high that I’ll present an idea or concept that is completely different from anything you’ve ever heard. I may say something that enters your cognitive and uproots a perception that has been cemented in your mind since you were child. It’s rare…but possible. Some interpret it as my subconscious attempt to push others away…As if I enjoy being seen as the odd-ball out.
I don’t do this to intentionally cause damage. But it is a tendency. If we’re having a conversation, in order to find out more about the topic of conversation, I ask questions. Not only do I ask the who, what, why and where. But I actually listen to what you’re telling me, make a deductive conclusion and simply ask you about what I concluded to see if it’s true or not. Not to prove that I’m smart…But to better understand you, or rather, to make sure we’re on the same page.
Then, recently two things happened to me. The first was when a friend tried to give me advice on my work. I told her that I respected and appreciated her advice but I think I’m gonna stick with it my way. I said this with a beaming smile and not a hint of aggression, I assure you. I then had another acquaintance turn down a job that I offered her because I made a comment about her work. I told her that she didn’t put a lot of details in her character’s faces. It wasn’t a fact, but an opinion, and not a serious one to boot. I can’t draw or paint for crap and she knew it. To me, it wasn’t necessarily a bad comment but an innocent observation. But from her perspective, I can see how it would’ve upset her a little.
I talked to my boss about both situations. My boss is a defense attorney with his own radio show and is one of the top followed attorneys on twitter. He’s not just my boss, but he’s also a father figure. He’s always giving me advice and never fails to compliment me on my endeavors. He’s a good man. A wise man. An important man who treats me as an equal despite my position.
This is what he told me after hearing about the recent things that have happened to me.
“Rock…you don’t always have to say what’s on your mind. Even if your thoughts are blatant and unintentional…you have to think to yourself…Does this person need to know what you’re about to tell them? Follow Benjamin Franklin’s advice on this one. Count to ten before you respond. And if you’re angry, count to one hundred. Chances are that most people who come in contact with you, already know that you’re smart. You don’t have to always prove it. Because when you do, you inadvertently make the other person feel like an idiot. And who wants to be around a person like that?”
My boss…Wise indeed. With both situations involving the friend and the acquaintance, I suppose I really didn’t need to tell them what was on my mind. My way of being upfront and straightforward may have gotten me this far, but in the future, its best not to make the assumption that everyone is receptive.
My boss told me, “Rock, you didn’t need to tell her that you respected her opinion but like it your way. You should’ve simply told her, thanks so-and-so. I didn’t see it that way! And that’s it.”
I smiled when he told me this, because his statements weren’t lies. I honestly wouldn’t have saw it her way. And to put it the way he suggested would have made her feel very appreciative. I was such a fool. She didn’t deserve to be treated that way. It was at that time that I looked in the mirror…and asked myself the following questions…
“Why is it important to you to explain yourself?”
“Why can’t you let others go on thinking they’re right over trivial things?”
“Does everything need to be critiqued?”
“What does that say about me?”
“What does that say about my peers?
“What do you do from here on out?”
Then mentally… I go to that interrogation room with a metal desk and chair and that one overhead swinging light that shines down only on the chair. There’s no officer there to grill me the questions. I sit down in the chair and light up a cigarette even though I’m not a smoker. With my head propped up by the palm of my hand, I ponder the questions again.
“Why is it important to explain yourself?”
It isn’t. I wished I lived in a world where I don’t have to. But I get where you’re going with this. And you’re right. If someone doesn’t understand you and even if they misinterpret where you were going with it, its all still your fault. You should’ve presented the damned idea so that it was clear enough not to be mistaken. Put some guardrails up on that mountain road for craps sake.
Then of course…yeah. You have to consider that you are smarter than the average. That isn’t arrogance, its just true. Modesty? No. Not even modesty…but keeping a lid on it will do you some justice. Only when you’re surrounded by people who you feel are up to par, then you can speak your mind freely. Until then…treat them like toddlers and your words like curse words. Hold your tongue.
I inhale another long puff of the cigarette and ponder the second question. “Why can’t you go on letting others think they’re right over trivial things?”
…I suppose I can work on that. We know where we can distinguish “trivial,” right? Then yes. If the matter isn’t important, like some facts about blue whales…sure. Let that person go one thinking it’s the largest “fish” in the sea. He’ll find out sooner or later, and last time I checked, I don’t have damned teacher’s certificate. What’s the next one?
“Does everything need to be critiqued?”
I burst out with laughter and I calm down abruptly. Takes you back doesn’t it. Independence Day vacation, does it not…Anyways. Yeah. I guess….WAIT! In the case of that artist. Because you were going to pay her…no…no. I guess it should’ve been kept to yourself. It wouldn’t have done you any good to say there isn’t a lot of details in her character’s faces. But you’d think she’d be aware of it…No….That’s beside the point. It wasn’t your place to say. She didn’t ask you.
Not everything needs to be critiqued. Although…I have to admit that it sucks to live in a world where you can’t simply speak your thoughts about what’s in front of you. I don’t talk out loud when I’m alone. I usually give critiques when there’s only an ear to speak to. Must I ask a person’s permission? Do I really need to ask a person…
“Hey! Hey man. Hey. Do you mind if I tell you what I think about this traffic today?”
That’s absurd. I’m not the type of person who complains until the water has boiled over. If I critique anything its because I see something that isn’t so obvious. Or point out something that hasn’t been mentioned by other people already critiquing it. With the girl with the faces and details…That was an awkward situation, but you shouldn’t feel bad about that one, Rock. If you call yourself an artist, opinions come along with it. So weird that one…
I take another puff of the cigarette. My eyebrows involuntarily arch up.
“What does it say about me that I’ve done the said questions? What does that say about my peers?”
I’m used to being called arrogant. So lets try something new. Hmm….Inconsiderate? Maybe. Short sighted even. I’m sure to that friend who gave me her opinions on my work, I might have come off like I actually think that I’m the center of the universe. That sucks.
Its only when I have to explain myself do I come off sounding arrogant. I learned that from my days with the acting class. The instructor would ask… “So Rock, what does this script mean?” And when I’d tell him…it was like revealing a magic trick. The answer was always about me. So when I answered, I was in fact making a revelation about myself. Today’s society frowns upon those who think highly of themselves and make it known. I only make it known because people haven’t figure it out for themselves. And if they have figured it out, today’s society…my generation…My generation isn’t the breed who likes to compliment others.
It reminds me of my last female conquest. When I told her that I gave her so many compliments but she’s yet to say anything about me, she responded with, “Rock, you sound like you compliment yourself enough.”
So disappointing. She was right. When I talk about myself, it must seem like I think that I’m the best thing since Jesus Christ. I clever as I think I am…As smart as I think myself to be…I still can’t tell when people are impressed are not. Growing up, I was rarely encouraged to do what I wanted to do. Both my mother and father had different paths for me to follow. So to see me walk my own way…I guess I can understand why they were reluctant to support me.
I can’t tell people that I want them to say they’re proud. Or that I did a good job. If I did, and they followed suit… it would be meaningless. Their compliments would hold no weight, no gravity to em.
“Well, Rock. Why is it so important for you to impress everyone?”
A common question I’ve heard from the females who have managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And it’s an exaggeration of a question. I’m not out to please “everyone.” I’ll settle for millions, thank you. And it’s not even really, “to please” but more so something else. It’s too early in the game to reveal what that “something else” is. But it is important to me. A better question…Why is it important for you to know the answer to that question?
“What do you do from here on out?”
Stick to your resolve, man. Your original resolve. Consider the people that’s around you before letting out Rock Kitaro. I know it sucks. As if you don’t suppress enough already. I know. You already know you were born 100 years too soon. And I know you’re afraid. You fear turning out like those other dead artists whose works haven’t been celebrated till decades after their death. But that’s all right. If that happens it’ll just go to show how fucked up everyone else if for thinking you’re arrogant to begin with.