DAY 22 (New medical condition discovered)

Snaps taken today….good to see some blue sky and colour.

I think the inability to say ” I don’t know” or “I don’t understand” must be a medical condition…from which I suffered most of my life.

Did you ever get that really sick feeling at the base of your stomach while sat in a classroom?  Just hoping and praying that the teacher wouldn’t call out your name, expecting you to give the correct answer to the current maths problem, definition of a word, name of a particular flower part or chemical symbol.  My schooldays were lived in constant fear – WHY? – because I was too scared to say “I don’t understand” or ” I don’t know”.

I’m not sure whether it was the school I attended, that my family didn’t encourage it, whether I lacked the confidence of standing up and being looked at or quite simply that I didn’t want to look stupid. (Or maybe it is a real illness!)

Let me explain this condition, the symptoms; sweating, stuttering, palpitations and the worst of the worst,  utter blankness.  I would sit in the exams looking down at the desk, the questions burning into the paper, they made no sense – they may as well have been written in Sanskrit, my heart would pound, I would feel nauseous, beads of sweat would break out on my forehead and my pen would slip in my hand, nothing made sense.  Meanwhile, all my peers were feverishly scribbling away and I would be sat there in a haze of confusion.  I just seemed to enter a tunnel of blankness, almost as if I wasn’t present and as a result my exam results left a lot to be desired.

This condition lasted well into adulthood and I found myself on so many occasions where I would experience these ridiculous situations of pretending to understand what was going on, when in fact I hadn’t the foggiest.

In my early twenties I went for a job interview, it was my first experience of one of those painful, traumatic, team building (what I like to call character assassination) group interviews.  Everyone present appeared to know what was going on, I bluffed my way through it, were they bluffing too?  Of course, on the second stage of the interviewing process I was up in front of a panel having questions fired at me….all the symptoms appeared and were on display for everyone to see, sweating, stuttering, total ineptitude to answer any questions.  Had they asked my name I would’ve got it wrong!  Needless to say I didn’t get the job.

My first position in a retail store, a group of trainees all bright-eyed, eager and enthusiastic….how to use the cash register?  Like all the other newbies,  I nodded in all the right places and then found myself out on the shop floor in the middle of the January sales…. refunds, exchanges, gift card purchases, discounts, vouchers. I was in a real pickle, I had to call for help.  I felt totally stupid!  Everyone else was calm and it seemed they had done this all their lives….maybe it was a conspiracy, maybe they had been planted there to make me feel a fool!!  Why oh why didn’t I make an idiot of myself in training rather than out on the shop floor? Oh I cringe when I think of it now!

When I met my husband, he picked up on this illness that I suffer from and calmly said, ” The idiot isn’t the one who doesn’t understand, it’s the person who doesn’t ask the questions”

So I decided to swallow my pride and put his theory to the test at the very next opportunity.  We were invited to a rather special New Years Eve party, it was bursting at the seams with intellectuals, scholars and academics.  One chap cornered me by the mantlepiece for a chat, he was most eloquent and as he chatted I could feel the onset of the symptoms, the shadowy cloud of blankness was forming, I was starting to feel sick…but NO, I wouldn’t go down that route….he was waffling on and on and I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about (for your information – it was something to do with loss adjusters and insurance claims, I think but can’t be sure!!!) so taking my husband’s advice I bravely said “I’m sorry I don’t understand what that means, could you explain it for me?” and with that he raised his hand as if waving to someone else on the other side of the room and excused himself.

I stood there alone, wondering why the abrupt departure?  Was it that he found me so unbearably stupid that he couldn’t stay in my presence a moment longer or that in fact I had found a weakness and he could not explain himself??

And so now I find it very, very easy to say ” I don’t know” or “I don’t understand”. It is very liberating!

I am human, I am flawed, and I’m proud of that.  I simply cannot know everything..

..and guess what?

I’m still learning!!!

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