The Smart Friends

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Have you ever had one of those friends that likes to portray the role of a smart friend? They’ll point out inaccuracies and correct you at embarrassing times, and often use big words or obscure words you don’t immediately ecognize…

The Smart Friends

Have you ever had one of those friends that likes to portray the role of a smart friend? They’ll point out inaccuracies and correct you at embarrassing times, and often use big words or obscure words you don’t immediately ecognize when a common word would suffice. Sometimes they’ll attempt to top your story with their own, and in some cases, they’ll seem to have a story for everything, and occasionally the examples will seem highly unlikely to be real.
I have known a few in my life, in different degrees. People who have developed a level of confidence that goes beyond the norm, and has given them a somewhat superhuman ego and an aura of superiority that can make you feel uncomfortable, and in some cases, unjustified inferiority. I have, in the past, hated them for it.

My first encounter with a master story teller was a fellow employee at the retail store I worked. No matter what topic was being discussed, he always had a personal story that topped it. He would steal the focus away from anyone, and tell his story. Quickly we learned to distrust him, and it became somewhat of a game to try to see what stories he’s come up with, when we were creating fiction that was increasingly harder to top. He became a bit of a laughing stalk when he described his ride in a fighter jet and other equally outlandish epics.

Later in life, as I created my own theories of storytelling, I realized his stories are all possibly true, and it was just his way of telling them that didn’t work out well in the surroundings. I actually learned a lot from his failures when developing my own life strategies. I often wonder how he aged and matured, no doubt experiencing all sorts of new life experiences to retell in future social gatherings. I hope he mastered a more socially acceptable way of telling his stories.

I had a male room mate briefly that always made me feel inferior, and I could never quite place my finger on why. The way he presented himself just made me feel like he felt he was superior, and that seemed to be enough. My defence mechanism was to dislike him, and so our time together was short lived. As with the first example, I hope this gentleman matured and learned to be more at home in a crowd and not feel the need to boast so much.

I know I went through several phases of personal development while working out the kinks in my personality. I wanted to be a good story teller without falling into the traps of over boasting, or using big words, but I know for a fact there was a time when I was one-upping the conversations I’d join. For a beginner, it was an easy “in” into an existing discussion. “Oh yeah, well let me tell you my story” was a way to interupt what they were talking about and change it tio what I was talking about.

When a friend pointed it out, I tried to change my ways. I still use it as a device, and occasionally catch myself attention stealing, but I have tried to master the art and maintain the flow, involving more of their stories in my new direction and using it to continue conversation, rather than pure story telling. Interaction at the level of the existing conversation is key. I don’t try to raise the level, or steal the focus.

I met another fellow who I almost immediately took a dislike to. He was the younger brother of a friend, and he’s spent a good portion of his adult life drifting between jobs before he decided to brake on academia as a career. He became an adult professional student of sorts, concentrating on learning and self development. This was expressed to all who met him, as a superiority, and he was proud to use words we all had to stop and inquire about. When telling a story, he took pride in these interruptions. To him, it was a sort of feedback. He knew we didn’t know what the words he was using meant, and if we didn’t;t stop to ask, he’s know we were not listening, or caring. If I asked, he’s smile and dumb it down for me with a smile.

ALthough this tactic may have worked for him, it meant the flow of the story was constantly broken with interruptions where he could flex his higher education and make us feel less smart. I met him again recently, and he;’s now out of school living in his parent’s basement, so I can assume he’s learning a new way of speaking. I think the world may have taught him that lesson. He was much more friendly and personable this time.

More recently, I’ve spent some time with a woman who I’ve known for a long time, and watched her grown from a sweet personable friend that was a joy to be with, into a more reclusive and almost annoying smart person. She transitioned in life to living with her first boyfriend to her second, and it seems she’s taken on the personality of the one she’s with, in this case, feeling smarter than anybody else in the room.

She’s said so herself. Hoping to therapy or a psychiatrist doesn’t work for her, because she knows more than the trained professionals. She stays inside and reads. Lunch with her this week was annoying, and I felt sad that the friend I once called “best” was now a new person I could not identify with.

My defence mechanism was confused, and bordered on mean. I found myself compelled to catch her in errors, and wanted so bad tio correct her when she wasn’t perfect, because that seemed to be what she was doing to me. I actually took joy in seeing her fail.

I was not pleased with myself for these feelings, but I remembered them from my time with each of the above examples. Confrontation became the norm. When somebody feels they are better than you, and you suspect it may be unjustified, you take up the mission to make them fail.

I noticed you can not correct somebody who likes to correct you. They will get defensive, and justify why your correction doesn’t apply to them. Secretly, inside we laugh at them. This is sad, and I feel. bad for it. It’s also quite hilarious at times, but you have to keep the laughs inside. I can recount two examples that made me almost want to burst out and become defensive back, explaining the absurdity of her justification, but I did not.

I can only hope she grows and matures as time continues. She is the youngest of all the examples I have encountered, and going through some tough self discovery of her own. Perhaps the ego is a tool to overcome esteem issues or other internal depression I”m not fully aware of. Given the choice, I believe over confidence is probably better than a lack of confidence to tackle life with, but I hope we all learn a fair balance somewhere along our life line. I am 52, and still learning. Maybe next, she’ll findsa new role model to move in with who isn’t so ego driven. I’d like to believe this is a phase in everyone’s life as they learn how to human. Not everyone is as obsessive about self improvement as I am, but I think everyone likes to be liked, and at some point you must discover your friends are walking away.

… or maybe it’s just me.

I understand there is a possibility some of the people listed above may happen upon this writing, and recognize the characters to be themselves. I can see how my stories can be quite offensive to the people involved, and I see not way around that. I also understand that it is my own mine that makes me feel inferior around over confident people, and that others may not suffer the same reactions but I do feel there is, or was room for improvement in all of us. As always, I’m sorry when my words upset people, as they often do. I can only hope perhaps you’re sorry when your words offend me as well. This is just a normal of some of the times I saw that happen.

I have a new found confidence, and am learning to not feel inferior, without feeling superior. It’s a very difficult balance, and although I know the rule to be true; you can;’t please everybody all the time, I also know you have a happier life if you can please more people and not piss off those who can help you and be friends.

I try not to let anybody else dictate my mood for me. I’ve never liked that. It’s one of the only things that makes me angry.

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