When fights between me and my dad gets nasty he starts calling me an idiot in every known variation that I can think of. In some cases he calls me a genius whenever I make a mistake that I’m totally clueless about. I believed he is blowing it out of proportion. Later in life, I understood that it’s just his high standards because I guess he believes I’m a genius and I’m the smartest person in the world so mistakes like that are absolutely silly for him.
You see at that moment, I get hurt so much and get convinced of my stupidity that I want to punch myself in the face. I want to go on a rampage and attack myself to divert the emotional pain into a physical one which I know I might be able to take better. I shut down, lose the will to fight back or to answer or to reason that he’s just upset and is maybe suffering from a language and/or learning disability that prevents him from being patient and explaining things well at the time.
As I’m out of his sight, I fight back. I’m determined to prove myself. As a result I try things. I fail. I quit and then I move on and try other things. I do this all with a heavy heart. I must prove to him that I’m not an idiot. I must surpass him. Everything is heavy. I move but I’m always exhausted. My willpower is fucking drained. I want to curl up into a ball and cry.
A few months ago I was learning how to cook. My new mentor, Jamie Oliver had been showing me the ropes. I don’t get to ask a lot of questions but he has this knack of explaining things that I need to know before I seem to ask him. I learn by watching his clips on the internet.
Jamie Oliver, in case you don’t know him, is a multi awarded celebrity chef who’s known for the food revolution and 30 minute meals and 15 minute meals. I like his relaxed style. One thing I noticed about Jamie Oliver is whenever Jamie explains something simple he says something like “this is so easy an idiot like me can do this and so can you” or something like “I’m an idiot but if I do this (demonstrates cooking technique) you can get amazing results and it will be absolutely perfect and genius and beautiful.”
This results in me being able to copy the recipe well. The guy who’s a genius chef calls himself an idiot. That doesn’t feel right but let’s give it a try. Then I remember something.
I am a weakling. I absolutely know that. That’s why I use techniques. Techniques allow someone weaker to overcome someone stronger.
I can’t remember where I got that. I eventually accepted myself being an idiot. From this day forward I’m an idiot. When I told myself “I’m an idiot” I eventually tried more things that I wanted to try. I played for fun and/or to win. I never felt so light in my life. The heavy burden or pressure creeps up on me then I say I’m trying to play here and it slithers back. Like all games I conquered, I win at my pace. I stop when I’m tired only to pick it up because I want to play again.
I accomplished things I never imagined so soon. I got my emergency fund. I killed my debt. I learned cooking skills. I started traveling. I became generally cheerful with my life. The last part is something that I struggled with for a long time.
Don’t be afraid to call yourself an idiot. Being an idiot gives you an excuse to try things. Don’t be afraid to call yourself a genius either if things go your way. It’s part of being human. You are a genius, you idiot. Please recognize it.
Note. This post is not written to be an advice for you. It’s a post to remind myself to laugh in the face of things that scare me. I have the bad habit of being ashamed or afraid of the wrong things (i.e. being called an idiot.) If this applies to you then (fist bump) that’s awesome.