Playground Lessons: Belittling

Mark Twain

Mark Twain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A really long time ago in fourth grade, I told a classmate I wanted to write my autobiography one day. “Yeah, but who would read it?” she asked me. I thought about it and thought about it and couldn’t come up with an answer. “Exactly,” she added.

My life was pretty mundane, sheltered, unexciting at that age, despite my steadfast conviction that I was destined to achieve amazing things. And even though our paths scattered us, and perhaps I haven’t accomplished half of what I intended to, almost two decades later, I still wonder about this girl’s statement, how casually she passed the verdict that I didn’t have anything of interest to say, between the first and second floor staircase of a cramped school building, during our tiffin break.

It’s sad, the easy way people belittle each other, because it happens all the time, and I personally have done it way too many times. It happens more often than we think in our relationships and friendships, where we are so afraid to express that we like something, that we’ve allowed social networks to make a franchise of what our interests and likes are, but roam the world with a disdainful mask of nonchalance, when in reality, we are anything but. The truth is, pushing someone down or reducing their personal significance is really just cowardly, period.

So here’s another thought by Mark Twain. It’s always helped me to stay focused: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

-December, 2012

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