17 April 2019


^^ Background image from Unsplash, by Annie Spratt / Original quote source unknown, found on Pinterest ^^

I had a whole other post written up for today (I'll schedule it for another time!), but then I was listening to a podcast yesterday and I heard someone talking about something she had witnessed happening one day in her local gym in the US somewhere, where a woman she knew to be very capable was ‘dumbing herself down’ in order to allow a man to explain to her what she should do  on a basic piece of equipment (even thought she knew much more than him in that environment!). Sounds crazy right? Yeah, it is, but that is one example and, for the purpose of this post I and not going down the whole feminist route at all; hearing that podcast example was just a prompt for me to explore my thoughts / experiences around why we may feel the need to dumb ourselves down in certain situations.

As I thought about the scenario described in the podcast, I had a sudden, somewhat horrific, realisation that I do this ‘dumbing down’ behaviour too, although it is not because I am allowing someone to show me something (especially in the gym dammit!), it is more a self-preservation thing for me I think. If I had to paint a picture of what I am like a lot of the time, so that you could immediately reference something you know, then just think about the character Chandler from Friends; a bit of a joker who uses humour as a defence mechanism; that is totally me. 

There is nothing wrong with a sense of humour of course, but I have become very aware that I use it to keep people away from knowing ‘the real me’ sometimes; the person that is at the very core of who I am. That is a form of dumbing down in itself because, rather than get overly into a conversation I can often throw random humour in to almost try and divert from something. As an individual, I have a lot of questions and ideas or opinions to offer, but I don’t let people see that because of fear. The fear is always of not feeling qualified enough to give them the answer they want, need or expect, and there is a voice always offering up the following dialogue ‘...they will think you are stupid, they won’t agree with you and you will be wrong’. Because of that I use humour. 

I am usually the one to make people laugh, ‘Lucy has a wicked sense of humour’ is something people say a lot, and I have (I’m a hoot for heavens sake!), but I am very aware of not letting my qualities rise up and overflow into general conversation because I have a lot of fear, so I dumb myself down so that I am not asked questions that I may get 'wrong' (read this to mean that someone may not like my opinion), or so that I don’t upset anyone, because if you are ‘the funny one’ people have no expectations of you, other than some fast humour, and I can do that easily.

So what are the good qualities? How do we start to step out of the dumbing down and into our true self? Well, I am starting to work on being less afraid to offer up my opinion; people who are very close to me will probably be thinking '...you are never short of an opinion you feisty mare!', but that is because they truly know who I am. In general though, I end up being the goofy, clumsy, joker and whilst that is part of me (boy am I clumsy sometimes!), I also have other qualities that mean I am not a stupid human at all. I am intelligent, I have opinions that I am seriously passionate about and I take many subjects very seriously because of this; so dumbing down is, quite literally, DUMB.

We all need to be more confident and true to showing up as who we are. Sometimes there is a real need to put on a front in certain situations in order to get through them, we are all human and we all do this from time to time, but there is no need to be afraid of being you (saying this to me as much as you!). It is very true that people who have a fundamental issue with some part of our personality are often just projecting their own issues on you, so let's all just try and shine. Let's make a commitment to showing the world who we really are; own your sh*t because it is fine for us all to be different to one another, thank God we are different.

Having read this, can you see any dumbing down in your life? Look out for it and stop it and, if you feel like sharing it, leave me a comment and let's chat!

1 comment

  1. DEFINITELY! Ugh, I do this all the time. I always deflect things with humour or sarcasm and I often do let people explain things to me even though I know perfectly well because I'm worried if I say "yes, I know, thanks" it comes across as overly abrupt.
    Social conditioning, huh?

    Thanks for sharing this Lucy, it's probably something people do an awful lot! xxx


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