Often, I wonder why people underestimate me. Once, at the annual meeting of a denomination, I presented a report about our church. One of the larger church pastors was truly amazed that I could speak well in public. He actually said, “Wow Karl, you speak pretty well. You used humor and had an organized talk…” I didn’t hear the rest because I was resisting the urge to get angry. I thought about saying, “Yeah, I preach every Sunday and we use full sentences in our little church..” or something sarcastic like that. Why would he automatically assume that I could NOT speak well in public.
It’s been a recurring theme throughout my life. I thought maybe it was the thick glasses or my laid back demeanor or my soft-spokenness. My mind races through a thousand things that it could be. It is a real thing that people consistently underestimate me and don’t expect me to be as good at what I do as I am. Only recently, I have begun to realize that it might be partially my fault. Some of it is because I fall into categories that make people automatically underestimate me, but I have some part in the issue.
I have always had confidence. I’ve always believed that I could do most anything. My life is pretty much a string of me trying stuff and doing it. But, my spiritual understanding often led me to resist the urge to state this. I might say, “Yeah, I’m pretty good” or “I’m not that bad,” instead of saying, “You know what–I’m damn good at that!” I assumed that was bragging (which may or may not be wrong) and it was surely prideful. I imagine this minimizing unconsciously speaks to those around me
Religion often reinforces this thinking by the assumption that we were originally bad. So, why speak confidently about ourselves since we are just unworthy clods anyhow. I had begun to disbelieve this theology by understanding that I was originally good and that God delights in me.
I’ve learned to utter the words, “I’m damn good.” I’ve started to use the phrase more lately. I think it’s important for me to say it.
Like when the guy in the department I transferred to said “how did you transfer so quickly?” I said, ‘because I’m damn good!”. No false humility. No diminishing things. It’s okay to know my capabilities and be confident in them. Another co-worker and I work well together. Last night, someone said “none of us is good.” I said, “we are, we are damn good, we work well together.”
People have one of two reactions to this: Either “you are full of it” or “you probably are pretty good at that.” Either way, they know I believe it. Whether they believe it is up to them. But, I think I have a much better chance of people not underestimating me when I tell them what I really think. Minimizing and spiritual bypassing won’t help. I need to let my confidence be verbalized so that I remember it and they don’t forget — I”m damn good!
Hold on just a dog gone second, Karl! What if I’m not good. If you are the best you can be, you are damn good. Tell them what you are!
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