“Know it all”

“Miss Smarty-Pants”

“Bookworm”

“Miss Million Dollar Words”

“Show off”

I’ve heard it all. Most of the time it just confused me. Why is answering someone’s question wrong? Why is knowledge shared – when it isn’t bragging, but simply the wish to help others, to inform, to educate yourself or others – a bad thing?

Recently I taught a “Change Your Life” class and in it offered a single free coaching session to each attendee. My instructions are always the same, “Call me at the phone number on the card and we will set up a time that is convenient for us to talk. There’s no sales pitch and if you are interested in continuing coaching, here is my price.”

Rarely does anyone make that call.

One woman did. She had sat quietly in class, said little, and merely shared her goal of returning to school and obtaining her Master’s degree. She did not say why but it was obvious that she was struggling with the decision. When she called at the pre-arranged for her coaching session I asked her what it was that was bothering her most about returning to college. She listed several reasons, concern about her grades from ten years ago not being good enough, worrying that they would reject her application. She shared with me that her husband and her daughter were both very supportive of her and wanted her to do this.

Classes can be re-taken. Colleges are desperate for students. These weren’t very realistic fears, but she focused doggedly on them. I could sense there was something more.

“So what is it really that is holding you back? You said you were a good student, why are you so worried about returning to school?” I asked. There was a long pause.

“I’m the first one in my family to go to college. They gave me a hard time before, and then I got pregnant with my daughter and had to drop out. Lately they’ve been really razzing on me, telling me, ‘You think you’re all that’. That I think I’m someone special, too good for them.” She admitted miserably.

“They think you are reaching above yourself, or selling out, don’t they?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Are you?”

“No! I mean I’ve almost got my Master’s, and I want to go into a line of work that will help kids and families, and…” She spoke for several minutes about the dreams and goals she had once she obtained the training. The joy in her voice was obvious, the excitement at the thought of finally achieving her dream was loud and clear.

“So I guess what you need to ask yourself is: ‘What is more important? My dreams and goals or the opinions of others?'”

She paused for a moment and said, “Thank you.”

A few days after the phone call I received a lengthy email from her thanking me for my time. It was worth more than any money she could have paid me. And it got me to thinking about my own experiences in school and work.

“Teacher’s pet.”

“Show off.”

[sigh]

Today I drove to the local recycling center to attend a free rain garden class. The speaker never showed up, but I passed my card out to five people who were all very interested in the classes I teach and my gardening knowledge. We visited for 1/2 hour as we waited for the speaker to arrive, and talked about organic gardening, rain barrels, companion planting, and wild edibles.

As I said goodbye, each and every person stopped and thanked me for coming and sharing my knowledge. Considering I was just there as another student, I thought that was pretty cool.

How ironic is it that I know more now, at 40, then I even could have dreamed of knowing at 15 or 20 or even 30. Back then I was the “know it all” and now what am I? The expert? How did that happen?!

What drives you? What peaks your interest and pulls you in? What makes you stay up late or get up early just so you can learn more or improve?

Whatever it is – be it fly fishing or psychology – be it art or alternative energy – even if it seems silly to others – take hold of it tightly. Immerse yourself within it, breathe it, live it. Become the expert. Become the smarty pants and the know-it-all.

‘Cause you know what?

I might be the know-it-all. I might be Miss Smarty Pants. I might be that bookworm, encyclopedia, who thinks she’s ‘all that’ – but I’m me. And I’m doing what makes me happy, teaching and informing others. And in that, I am of benefit to the world and my heart is happy.

Go do what makes you happy and let the others stand still while you fly.

Go on.

Do it.

p.s. And if you have read this far, would you give me a shout out? Who’s listening/reading out there?

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