I was called retarded when I was six years old and was placed with the other “special” kids— some sweetest kids.
Ms. Gore, my teacher, would grab my pudgy cheeks and exclaim, “You’re so cute!”
I didn’t speak English, so adults would yell LOUDER at me as if a higher volume would help me understand the words better.
I felt so ashamed that I vowed right then to speak English better than most other Americans— even though I was born in Dayton, Ohio.
A few years later, in 1988, I represented California in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.
And I became a public speaker on stages across the world.
Yet even today, someone talked down to me in ALL CAPS AND BOLD in an email, treating me like an idiot, just like Ms. Gore 40 years ago.
That hurt, opening up an old wound.
And I remember how so many people are arrogantly ignorant, like a guy farting up a storm and his sense of smell not working.
He confidently struts into every room, farting all over people, not realizing the calamity he’s causing.
Some people might think the moral of the story is to make sure you’re right before flexing your biceps.
But I think it goes deeper than the Dunning-Kruger Effect (a powerful concept that explains confident idiots and humble experts).
Instead, it’s about empathy to help others grow, no matter where they are.
Before you declare your opinion to others, be sure you have some credibility.
Therefore, make sure you are reliable and helpful before sharing your viewpoint with others, as you will have some credibility.
I’m grateful for the arrogant idiots who motivated me to become better and never stop learning.
Maybe someone is a “thorn” in your life, as a sign that it’s time to level up and prove them wrong.
About the Author