My Ozman is dealing with what, I believe, is a fairly common situation of teenagers. He doesn’t ask for help at school. Therefore, he’s struggling a little bit more than necessary. Each and every teacher of each and every class he’s having a hard time in will say, “If only he’d ask more questions. Then I can understand where he’s not understanding and give him help.”
Ugh. Story of my life. For srs. I was a sophomore in college the first time I asked a question during a test. How do I remember this? Because I could not afford to fail this particular test or I’d be retaking the class and I could not afford to retake the class. It was a business class with one of my favorite professors and I felt most comfortable around him. He took extra steps in showing me that he wanted me to succeed but I HAD TO START ASKING QUESTIONS! Fine, I’ll ask.
Guess what? He didn’t give me the answer outright but he walked me through a couple of steps verbally where I was able to figure it out on my own. I used this technique for the rest of the test and aced it. HOLY SHIT! It’s that easy?? All I have to do is ASK? Geez, wish someone would have told me it was that simple! (I joke that the reason Oz doesn’t ask questions is because neither his dad or I did. His dad didn’t because he thought he knew everything and I didn’t because I assume I knew nothing. Poor kid and his crappy genes.)
It’s took many years after that, but in the last 10 years, I have finally found a comfort in myself to ask questions of many people on many topics. People on the HG circuit know all too well. If I’m anywhere near someone who throws an implement in a way I understand and admire, I’ll go up and ask about it. I may appear stupid; I may appear to be a pain in the ass, I don’t care. I have an expert in front of me, I’ll ask. They are always free to tell me they don’t have time to answer and that’s okay too. I ask beer people questions on beer tours. Sometimes I’ll preface it with saying, ‘this may be a stupid question, but…’ Not once has anyone said to me, “you’re right, that was a really stupid question. So stupid in fact that I’m not even wasting my time with an answer. Here’s a beer token, get out of my face.” Never happened. I embarrass Matt sometimes by asking questions. See, my husband is very smart, honestly sometimes he’s too smart and forgets that other people don’t possess his knowledge so when I ask questions that he’s known the answer to probably all of his life, I embarrass him in front of people. Still. Don’t. Care. I’ll ask. I’ve worked hard to find that comfort to ask questions, no one is taking it from me.
Anways. On stupid questions asked…
What I’ve learned is that the majority of people will answer, ‘great question, here’s the answer.’ I don’t need the validation that it was a great question actually, I just want the answer. There are times I do ask a question and get laughed at for asking. I’ll chalk that up to the fact that in those cases, I am not in a safe place to ask and it won’t happen again. Oh sure, I may still be curious about something said, but fuck off. If you’re so small that you need to laugh at people asking questions (interestingly enough, I find that people who are afraid to ask questions for fear of looking stupid will be the first to laugh at people asking questions. Ummmm,you’re laughing at your own fear. Good luck with that) then that’s on you.
I have worked very hard to try to differentiate when behavior is a reflection of me or of the person exhibiting it. I own my shit, but I won’t own yours.
I wish so much I could instill this into Oz. Like, right now. Some kind of magic injection to feel confident enough to ask questions. To know that though you may be laughed at, you’ll have the information you sought and joke’s on asshole who laughed because now you’re smarter than them. That all he needs to do now is ask EVERYTHING he’s unclear about and learn in time when questions are appropriate and how to ask them. But dude, you’re 15, you know very little (unless it’s on guns; tanks; or WWII war strategies, then he’s the SME.)
All our best men are laughed at in this nightmare land.