Am I a Know-It-All?

brain-763982-1No one likes a know-it-all.

I learned this early in my life through both secular school and Sunday School.  I was the nerdy kid who knew most of the answers.  I was self-assured, well-taught, and extroverted enough to never have much of a problem raising my hand and answering the question.

Then I became a teenager, and wondered what happened to my peers.  Suddenly, they totally lost a pulse, and getting them to comment in school, answer a question, or even have an opinion was like pulling teeth sometimes.  I never really suffered from this teenage phenomenon.  Sure, I was concerned with being cool and fitting in….

… well, actually I wasn’t.  I was more concerned about being right.

It has been recently pointed out to me that my greatest fear just might be “Being Wrong.”  …And I think that might be true.  So I’ve recently become slightly more aware/paranoid that people might be resenting me for having such strong opinions.

I remember one particular time in Sunday School when I raised my hand to answer a question, and I totally bombed it.  The teacher flat out gave me a “no.”  I was mortified!  How could I have gotten it wrong?  I knew everything!  I was God’s gift to my Sunday School class!!!  I quickly moved from the quietly embarrassed phase to the loud, resentful, angry phase.  I yelled at the teacher that they were wrong.

It didn’t make me right, but it made me feel better.

And so it has been my whole life.  Whether in church, in school, in life, or even in love – I have never taken being wrong very well.  While I have managed to control the rage and eagerly accept correction and counsel as well as the next guy (something I really learned to do while serving a mission), I still take great pride in having well-formed opinions about a lot of things, and liberally evangelizing them among others.

This is where my blog comes in.  This blog has turned into my personal bully pulpit at times, and often is the venue for my (sometimes ill-formed) opinions.  In fact, I’ve even become accustomed to filtering my posts based on whether I think there is any chance that I will regret or want to take back something that I say later on.  (Case in point: my blog on Patriotism… and the blog I originally had scheduled to appear today… a blog on the Mommy Bloggers)  I’m so paranoid about being wrong, I even try to anticipate those things that I will even possibly change my ideas about later and preclude them from discussion on the blog.

I’m sure I’ve offended some, but hopefully caused some of you to think about something in a new way, and hopefully inspired you at times.  That’s my favorite thing, anyway; writing a post and having someone comment months or even years down the line about how they really enjoyed it.

So here’s the question: Do I come off as a know-it-all?  Do I turn you off by my constant barrage of opinion?  Do you find yourself mostly agreeing, mostly disagreeing, or mostly shaking your head and wondering “he’ll grow up some day…”

15 thoughts on “Am I a Know-It-All?”

  1. I’d much rather read a post by someone with a strong opinion which I disagree vehemently than to read a blog with no opinion. 🙂 In fact, I disagree pretty whole-heartedly with some of your posts about the financial stimulus and politics. And I’m sure you know from my blog that I, too, have no problem stating my opinion as though it were fact. Blogs where no opinion is shared tend to be dull and uninteresting. People’s personalities inform their opinions and vice versa. You get to know them based on the opinions they share.

    Now, if we could only get you to stop watching American Idol… 🙂

  2. IMO, most of the time it depends upon how you state your opinion. For instance if you are to state in language such as “this is the way it is” or “this is the best way” or “it’s only true like this” then it can be off-putting. However, if you state “from my experience” or “I have seen that” or “in my opinion” people aren’t off-put.

    All that aside, I have learned in my life that MORE IMPORTANT than any of this, is an ability to truely consider and be humble enough to even adjust opinions or feelings. In other words, it’s okay to feel strongly about something, but I think a person should be humble enough to consider others feelings and opinions just in case they may be mistaken.

    This ability will serve you very well in life now that you are getting married.

  3. TLS, what you suggest is good, practical advice… especially when trying to actually influence other people (no one wants to be told what to do). But all my writing classes tell me differently. In the writing style I was educated and most practiced in (persuasive essay and literary commentary), you have to speak as an authority. Since everything is subjective anyways, I was taught to pick a side and defend it to the death. Qualifying everything makes your arguments weak. The more controversial the subject, the more definite you should be. Maybe this background is part of the reason I might come off this way.

    Part of the problem is that I consider a lot of this to be a mental exercise anyway. Non-threatening. Others not so much.

  4. Yes, W.E. you are right. I did think of this fact, (that qualifying and stating things as opinions weakens the arguments) Therefore, I do think that this may only be effective in certain contexts. Other things will be better stated as fact.

    However, as I said, I do still feel very strongly that considering and even sometimes adjusting in response to another’s point of view is a very useful skill. Some people may feel it is spineless, but spinelessness isn’t what I am advocating. I am saying that there are situations where we can learn from others and their experiences too. This is what both my spouse and I do in our marriage, and though we don’t have the same stance on every issue, we are one of the most agreeable couples I know because we both listen and seriously consider the other’s opinion.

    I am also advocating that people not always believe that they are infalible. In my life I feel I have the ability to say I am wrong or I mess up, (even when it isn’t really my fault) and someone else gets to save face and feel good about the situation. When we aren’t able to admit imperfection we just look dumb.

    (BTW, I don’t think you have this problem, I am just saying it as in people in general)

  5. I think WE knows it all. Whatever you say is right. 🙂 Now, what did you have to say about those “mommy bloggers”?? Come on. I can take it…because you’re right.

  6. Don’t touch the mommy bloggers. When you have kids you’ll be a mommy blogger yourself. I don’t understand why people get annoyed with mommy bloggers. We are mommies! We love our litte kiddies! Why the heck would we want to blog about anything other than how smart/cute/funny they are! If you don’t want to see that then don’t check out our blog. To talk crap about mommy bloggers is to tell us that adoring our kids, teaching them, and being actively engaged in raising them is boring, or even worse: embarrassing. I am a working mom but I get ticked when “stay-at-home moms” get made fun of. Sorry, sore spot. I’m hopping down now.
    I appreciate you keeping me “in the know” with politics. I also couldn’t agree with you more on your views of AI. Love ya WE.

  7. Wow… that is sensitivity… I didn’t even say anything and you went off on me. 🙂

    And yes, I do love seeing pictures and reading stories about the little kids. Who doesn’t?!

  8. Humbly, I submit that – at times – you can have an arrogant tone. But it is your blog, so does it matter? Most of the time you just sound, like you stated, self-assured and there is nothing wrong with that. We read your blog because we like hearing what you think.

  9. Didn’t mean to come off so ticked. Really. I’ve heard that gripe many times but I should have known that a great guy like yourself would NEVER make fun of mom bloggers.

  10. It’s my firm opinion that when someone has a blog/website, they have every right to say exactly what they want how they want and when they want. It’s our choice to click here, after all! If I disagree with something written in a post (here or somewhere else) I’ll respectfully leave a comment to that effect, but at the end of the day, I’m sort of a guest on your space, you know? So blog about mommy bloggers and stimulus packages and patriotism and don’t ever think you’re being a bully – this is YOUR blog!

  11. I love nothing better than an intelligent person. It all depend’s, whether you think you are a know-it-all? I consider myself to be very intelligent. My girlfriend think’s, I am a know-it-all. I am set in my way of doing things the right way, convenience and without issue’s from anyone. This make’s me a know-it-all because, other people’s issues don’t bother her as much as they do me so, I don’t want to have anything to do with anybody, really.

  12. I can’t comment about whether or not you come across as a know-it-all, since this is the first I’ve read of your blog. (Sorry!) I’ve been slowly coming to terms with the possibility that I am “that student”- I always had to have the answers, and I can get quite upset with myself when I get something wrong. It’s really heartening to hear someone describe it this way. Here’s to going from know-it-all to know-a-good-deal-but-not-steamrolling-everyone-else-in-the-process!

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