Dear President Trump,
I’m quite certain I’m not alone in my strong dislike of feeling stupid – most everyone, including those of you in the news, seem to try to avoid looking stupid at all costs (whether we are successful is another matter entirely). For me, feeling stupid is one of the top three most noxious of the common emotional/cognitive experiences I have day-to-day, often edging out 1) angry self-righteous reactions to people texting while driving, and 2) recognizing that my impatience with one or the other dogs (or whomever) isn’t helping a given situation but still not being able to control it. I know how to mentally mouth the platitudes about it being ok to be wrong about stuff, about how I shouldn’t beat myself up, and on and on. Got it. I teach this every day, one way or another. But dang if it doesn’t suck to feel stupid.
Plus, there are so many different types of scenarios that can lead to this noxious vector of self-doubt, frustration, helplessness, confusion, and panic that often comes with feeling stupid. There are the self-imposed ones that follow having been inarticulate at a crucial moment or not having had my facts straight because I was underprepared. Those are probably the worst. Then there’s having someone catch errors like happened the other day when I used the wrong acronym for Cranky Buddha Baby. Those aren’t so bad; they’re minor in the scheme of things and they happen so often I’ve habituated to them.
Then there are the ones where I feel sucker-punched. I don’t remember ever experiencing feeling stupid in the context of politics before you “won” in 2016, but you managed to usher in a new, highly aversive era for me. Election night 2016 was probably the first instantiation of the WTF-happened, how-could-I-have missed-that-this-was-coming stunned sense that the world had turned upside down on me.
For some reason I don’t seem to be habituating to these political rug-pulls well at all. Every day I’m confused afresh and then alarmed at my confusion in response to your off-the-rails Tweeting. And when I read Barr’s testimony about his summary of the Mueller report and his attempts to defend having put way too much bleach into the spin cycle, I still find myself responding with disbelief, followed quickly by taking myself to task for being so naïve. As in – ‘Tracy Lynn, he told us before he was confirmed that he would be your toady so why the hell should I be surprised now?’ Did I really think that getting to be the AG would magically inoculate him with a live dose of integrity? Apparently really, really wanting something to be true sets me up to be disappointed and surprised when the predictable reality ends up being the real real.
The thing that brought all this to the fore was listening to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s interview on NPR last night on the way home. I knew she was a Republican, but I also knew she was a woman, and silly me, I gave her all sorts of benefits of doubts and thought she’d have a sensible or nuanced way of talking about Barr’s testimony. I was wrong. In spades. And I yelled at her. Obviously what was driving this strong reaction was having my expectation that women will do better than their male counterparts be stomped in the dirt when she started trotting out all the disingenuous bullshit about how we need to put the report behind us (except for investigating the investigation) and that no President should ever be put through this again. Holy crap did she lay it on thick – it was like she was a wind-up Stepford Wife doll programmed to do your bidding. She got to do her pro-you thing on air and I was left with feeling like an idiot for thinking (desperately hoping) she might take some Republican-version of the high road.
May we be safe from our own expectations.
May we be willing to deal with what is really real.
May we find a healthy balance somewhere between naïve and jaded.
May we make peace with this messed up situation so we can engage with it effectively.