Sunday, 25 October 2015

Smart or smarting?

I'm pretty paranoid about seeming stupid. I dread the possibility that I'll inad-vertently say something so clueless that those listening will inwardly wince or titter at my idiocy.

All those attentive faces that were assuming I had something intelligent to say will suddenly freeze and conclude I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer and they can safely ignore me.

Which I guess is one reason I tend to be shy in company and say as little as possible. I'm not one of those people who gabble away non-stop and couldn't care less how others judge their remarks.

I'm assuming of course that people are mean enough to gloat over my inanities rather than being sympathetic to an unintended blooper they could as easily have made themselves. I assume they're privately guffawing rather than feeling a twinge of friendly recognition.

I guess the root cause of my paranoia is the sneaking belief that most people are more intelligent than I am. I suppose it goes back to my failing the 11 plus and then leaving school with disappointing exam results. Not to mention those deeply flawed IQ tests.

But at the end of the day it's just the nagging suspicion that what I think is an intelligent, perceptive remark is actually half-witted but I just haven't realised that. So I keep the remark to myself and say nothing. Better to look opinion-less than gormless.

It's rather galling though if ten seconds later someone else comes up with the exact same thought, which is greeted enthusiastically, and I kick myself for being so self-doubting.

Okay, stop tittering at the back. And stop giving me those funny looks.


  1. "Better to look opinion-less than gormless", you say.

    Sorry to disillusion you even further, Nick. To not voice an opinion IS gormless.

    And please do keep Kylie off my back. Tell her that you "referencing" me in a recent post (and thank you for that)is what friends do: Taking each other and our opinions seriously. Which reminds me: I loved your fluffy fluffs. Glad you enjoy the good in life whilst agonizing over the shit waiting in the wings. I aspire to what the Angel does, namely to "compartmentalize", a sort of living the good cheek by jowl to the bad and the downright abhorrent. There is an art to it and Jackson Pollock, like Camus and many others, kissed a tree before they had time to put that little dot on their i.


  2. to me you are john cleese and mr bean and...
    hugh grant in four weddings and a funeral...
    all rolled into ONE!
    and i love them all.
    each unique in his own way. and making a composite of a singular man who is still a gentleman. and a fun one at that!
    and let me tell you. as an endangered species... a gentleman is wonderful to encounter these days. whether in print as here... or in person.
    my mother once said to me ... when i guess i was a self absorbed teen ager and in angst over something ...
    "darling. everyone is so worried about themselves... they are not going to have time to worry about you."
    wise words.
    from a delightful cross between auntie mame and saint bernadette!
    and i dare say they still apply for most of us.

  3. Ursula: Well, opinion-less is okay once in a while, as long as I don't look devoid of opinions on any subject at all.

    In my case, I don't see the different states - good, bad and abhorrent - as compartments. More as layers of personality, with the good on the outside (my cheerful social and work-self), and the bad deep down in my psyche where it can't be seen.

    Kissing a tree? Dotting an i? What's that all about then?

  4. There is a quote, I believe by Mark Twain, that goes something like:

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

    I imagine you're above average in intelligence, Nick, and need not worry so much about speaking up.

  5. Honestly, I think most people are self-absorbed and thinking more about what they're going to say next than what anyone else is saying. At least in large groups.

    I feel as though you bring up topics like this a lot and it's usually about things that have rarely or never crossed my mind. Then again, I'm usually not in social situations with complete strangers. Maybe that is our difference? I would never worry about what I said in front of friends.

  6. From reading your blog, my perception is that you are not "stupid," but, instead, rather insecure in some ways. (Me, too. I fought insecurity about many things for a long time, though not so much in recent years.)

    So far as all those "attentive faces" -- in my experience, most aren't so attentive at all. Rather than listening, many are formulating what they are going to say next. They might not hear if you did say something "clueless" ... and probably won't remember it if they did.

  7. Tammy: Oh dear, I don't really identify with any of those three! Except maybe Hugh Grant for his political radicalism and his legal action against News International for phone hacking.

    Ha, I don't think many people see me as a gentleman either! A diehard left-wing renegade, more like. Though I do believe in consideration and courtesy and common decency, if that's what you were thinking of!

    True enough about everyone being worried about themselves. Doesn't stop them noticing other people's gaffes though!

  8. Jennifer: Absolutely - Mark Twain nailed it.

    Many people have reassured me I'm intelligent. In fact one woman says I'm "fucking intelligent". Sometimes I believe them, sometimes I don't. Especially since my sister's IQ is supposedly about 30 points higher than mine. That's the damage that IQ tests do....

  9. Bijoux: Yes, I guess I'm mainly referring to situations involving strangers or workmates. On the whole, I wouldn't have the same inhibitions with friends I know well.

    You seem like a very self-confident person who's seldom worried by other people's reactions or doubtful about your own intelligence or abilities.

  10. I'm so out of line with most people I meet that anything i say will be automatically disregarded.

  11. Mike: Insecure in a big way! I constantly feel as if life hangs by a thread (despite my life having been very stable and dependable for several decades).

    I think you're right that most people are busy rehearsing their own contributions. Except of course those who don't intend to speak and are listening to everyone else very intently!

  12. Helen: I get the same reaction most of the time! I have such maverick views on so many subjects, I think I often leave those with more mainstream views totally baffled.

  13. I hope none of you compassionate lot are worrying too much about my mental health! I have plenty of hang-ups but I'm a tough old bird and I cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life very well. I'm not about to go belly-up any time soon....

  14. 30 points? Egads. I always thought I was the dumbest of my siblings. Most dumb? Whatever.

    You sound more intelligent than the average bear. Don't worry so much.

  15. Susie: I know, 30 points? But as we're all aware, there are different types of intelligence and IQ tests only measure one particular type. But even knowing all that, a low score still has a deflating effect.

  16. I remember having to reinvent myself post devil alcohol, I had not problem, when drunk, in expressing myself everywhere, any time to everybody exactly what my opinions were.

    Sober? Another story.

    Two of the most valuable sayings were given to me by new friends.

    (1) Everyone will have forgotten what you said within 5 minutes after you said it.

    (2) There is no such thing as "shy". We should call it as it is: "extreme self-centredness".

    I can't tell you how valuable this advice has been for me.

    Acknowledging, of course, it's not for everybody.


  17. www: "Everyone will have forgotten what you said within 5 minutes". That's very good advice! And I'm sure in almost every case it's true.

    Extreme self-centredness? Maybe you're right. I shall ponder that one.

  18. I usually avoid talking to a crowd of more than two people in case I say something stupid and get the 'stony stare treatment, or the sound of sharply indrawn breath! My trouble is that my mouth runs away with me sometimes, and I suddenly find that I have even more ex-friends.

  19. People who are that critical aren't really friends. Why would I want them cluttering up my life? As I wrote in today's post, I'm a celebrator, not a critic. I don't look down on people who make mistakes, I'm more apt to tell a story about a similar mistake I have made.

  20. Keith: Talking of ex-friends, I think part of my problem is that I don't have that many friends to start with so I'm hyper-sensitive to alienating people and having even fewer friends.

    Jean: I guess I'm talking here more about strangers and acquaintances than proper friends. Of course you should be able to say anything to a friend without worrying about the reaction. A celebrator, not a critic - that's a good attitude, one I try to keep to myself.

  21. www: I don't think shyness is a matter of extreme self-centredness. That can just as easily be the mark of the relentless chatterbox who wants to talk about herself at enormous length to anyone who'll listen. I think shyness is more a question of self-confidence or lack of it.

  22. There is a moral to that flagellation. Stop. Fire away the inanities. Nobody listens anyway!

  23. Ramana: A very pithy response! The trouble is that what I see as a highly astute remark is seen by others as an inanity. Still, maybe you're right and they're probably not listening anyway. They're just mulling over whether they can afford a week in Lanzarote.