Shut Up, Stupid

This is the part where you’re allowed to think I’m an ignorant jerk.

I can’t recall the number of times I’ve been locked in a classroom with an excessively vocal student who clearly has no idea what’s going on, but fails to recognize his or her own incompetence. I assure you, this happens on an all too regular basis. It’s hard to explain to someone so wrapped up in his own imaginary intellectual prowess that not only is he not God’s gift to academia, but that his constant recollection of inaccurate trivia and proclamation of test scores only further proves his idiocy.

However, I can recall those I’ve met who’ve spoken quietly, honestly, and humbly about their perceived level of intelligence. From what I’ve found, some of the smartest individuals are well aware their flaws, sometimes to a fault, and would never claim superiority over another student. Aptitude isn’t restricted to academic matters. Sometimes it takes a smart person to admit in a newspaper article that things like eating and sleeping are much more pleasurable than spending hours in a lab or woodshedding scales in a room without windows.

I want to be the latter. I want to be humble and honest and never think to brag. However, from time to time I slip up and talk about how great I am, for I am not without ample self-esteem. In fact, by even writing this song and this reflection, I’m kind of talking myself into a giant pit of stupid. As Honest Abe said (and many an aspiring intellectual has repeated), “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

I should just leave it at that, but I’m not done proving myself a fool.

I learned a long time ago that if you tell people how smart you are all the time, they might believe you and make you do things. I was smart in elementary school. My mom was a kindergarten teacher, so I got a great head start. Then, people started asking me for things. To remedy the situation, I decided to just keep quiet about my talents. No one wants extra work. However, if I found something I liked to do, it might be okay to be a little more vocal.

I’ve noticed a pattern developing in my life. I put myself on a path, and then do everything possible to avoid that path. In high school, I was a musical theatre major, but I avoided Thespians club in favor of jazz band. In college, I chose to major in sound, but did everything possible to handle the video portion of assignments. I’m guessing it’s because I’m insecure about my abilities. I recognize that there are other people around who are better than me at the things I’m supposed to be able to do well. It’s not impressive if the jazz band guitarist is an orchestra major. However, an audience may excuse some mistakes if they know I’m in musical theatre.

In his book, Which Lie Did I Tell?, William Goldman repeatedly states that no one knows anything. I know he’s referring to producers in the film industry who have no idea if a film will be successful, but the thought is applicable nearly everywhere. A lot of the time, people are just winging it. When I think about that, the pressure is suddenly off. Maybe I’m actually qualified to do things? Or maybe I’m just an idiot like everyone else.

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Shut Up, Stupid

C F
When William Goldman said, “Nobody knows anything.”
G C
I took a step back and thought, “Yay for me!”
C F
It’s slightly more about luck than creativity
G C F C
And I’m glad I’m just a little lucky

C F G C
C F G C F C

C F
When Derek showed the class the Dunning Kruger Effect
G C
I thought, oh my God, that’s why you can expect
C F
The misinformed to always interject
G C
While the rest of us just accept

C F
Whatever crazy thoughts make it out of their mouths
G C F C
Because the smartest ones give them the benefit of the doubt
C F
So if you’re insecure you’re not the best around
G C
You might be the one who should be making a sound

C F G C

Am F Am G
“It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool
Am C G Am G
Than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt,” it’s true

C F
So the next time I’m feeling quiet and blue
G C F C
And I think to myself, I’m the dumbest in the classroom
C F
I can rest assured that’s probably not true
G C F C
Or I wouldn’t be writing this credo for you

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