Fearing

pufferfish

Image courtesy of Saspotato

Social media can be so cruel. Before Twitter, Facebook and the like, I was content in thinking that I knew something. I felt like I was actually pretty knowledgeable and was able to connect the dots to apply that information in a meaningful way. But then I joined Twitter and started blogging. Now, I feel that I don’t really know that much really. When I read what others write and even the short snippets provided in Tweets, I feel, well, pretty dumb actually. I don’t say this to gain pity, I am admitting it because I am starting to realize that this is somewhat of a gift.

Before my social media days, I was content in what I thought was right. I had my ideas and beliefs about language education and teaching and was happy to think that things were going well. Actually, they were going pretty well for me, but what I truly didn’t know was how things were going for my students. Oh, I tried to find out and I think both the student and myself thought we were doing the right things, but in reality neither of us really knew. I guess I can’t speak for them, but the reality is that I could have been more of a help to them if I had known what I do now.

Yes, I do feel small and a bit down at times when I read these amazing things written by others, but when I stop and think about it, that reality is what keeps me moving to learn more and examine what I am doing on an ongoing basis. I need to be better, not for me, but for my students.

After saying that, I think there are some people online and in everyday life who use their knowledge to put themselves in a position of power. They blow themselves up like pufferfish to scare anyone who dares question them about anything in which they are knowledgeable, but in reality, they are ones who are scared. They fear that the thing they feel that defines them will be snatched away if they drop their guard. In truth, I feel a bit sad for them. I wish they could see what I see when they do this and how it makes them look to others. They have so much to say, but their message gets lost in the act.

Then there are those who amaze me. These are the people are almost always the smartest person in the room, but they have an innate ability to make you feel like you are the one with something to share. I work with someone like that. She is the lead instructor in a course in which I am the collaborating instructor. She is brilliant and yet she always stops to ask me what I think and then encourages me to share that with others. In all actuality, she has a deeper knowledge on the subject, but that isn’t the point. She really wants to know what I think. She sees me for who I am and values what I have to say. I really enjoy working with her even though it can sometimes be exhausting constantly thinking about what is happening and where we are going. I often feel like I am barely keeping up, but she never takes it so far that I get left behind. That is an amazing gift and something I value in her as do many others.

I think we all have something to share, but we are often too scared to share it for fear that we will be exposed. Others will see what we don’t know and that will make us appear stupid to those in whom we are desperate to earn their acceptance. I say this because I know this happens to me all of the time. Someone starts talking about something on Twitter or in a blog post and I freeze, thinking that I am out of my depth. If I ask questions, I will be exposed as a fraud, or worse, someone who thinks they know something but really doesn’t have a clue. Well, that’s me and I need to start embracing it. I am here to tell you loud and clear, I don’t know it all and I’m ready to learn. Bring it on.

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