I Wish I Could Stop Being an Asshole

Not to sound *too* terribly arrogant, but I’ve got a few things going for me. But, probably the thing that holds me most back from getting what I want in life, other than not being able to want any one thing for more than five minutes, is that I cannot stop being an asshole.

The latest iteration of the pattern was this class I signed up for. To protect the innocent, I won’t name the class or the organization it’s offered through. It’s something interesting and business-y, but not directly related to my career goals. The reason I signed up is that I wanted to undo some of the damage I did the last time I was in close contact with this organization, which is well-funded and influential. We’ll call it the Dick Foundation. But it’s pronounced “doke.”

I’ve taken classes offered through Dick before. You know that person in class who always needs to argue with everyone about arcane shit no one else cares about but for some reason really works them up? Who gets really upset when the classes teach things they disagree with? Or gets very invested in how things are taught? That was me. It was a year-long class and by the end of it I’d freaked out and alienated nearly every person I’d come in contact with.

The weirdest thing about it is that I knew better. I knew that making a good impression, and the helpful connections and relationships that would result, was far more important than whatever petty bullshit I kept calling people out over. Alas, I was an addict, and self-righteousness and pedantry were my drugs.

So with a solid year between that class and me, I vowed to do it better this time. I’d show up, be nice, make friends, and, coincidentally, perhaps learn something.

Having done (most of) the reading, I sat down. The PowerPoint began. I read points from the book word-for-word on the slides. Then the instructor read those points, word-for-word, from those slides. This is where my rage started bubbling up. And this, my friends, is where I should have left.

Now, I have no idea where this rage comes from. It’s a free class. All I was missing is the Tuesday discount for buying plane tickets and some girlfriends meeting for drinks in DC. Maybe it’s PTSD from Alabama public schools, where a teacher who didn’t read straight from the textbook was a rarity.

But as one hour turned into two, my expression got more dour. I crossed my arms and scowled. I could not believe he would dare to stand up there and waste my time by simply explaining what I’d already read in the book.

Everyone else seemed happy, chipper, even. Asking polite, pertinent questions. Going along to get along.

When the teacher asked me if I was getting anything out of it, before I could stop myself I said, “The book is really clear.”

Why did I say that? These people around me just nodded their heads. These people are going places. They will obtain positions of power, influence, and wealth.

And the craziest part is that it’s not like I’m some super genius or have a photographic memory. My memory is horrible. So it’s not like I can’t benefit from repetition. I just find it excruciatingly painful. Inexplicably so. Literally my only saving grace is that I have zero emotional attachment to or investment in the content of the course, or I would surely have made an ass of myself about that as well.

Realizing what was in store, I left after the second hour, before the third (!) began.

A woman’s got to know her limitations. And I literally cannot sit through three hours of reading a textbook I’ve already read off of slides which are then read aloud. Cannot do it. Wish I could. Would be better if that were possible. Really jealous of the people who can. Look forward to working for them. But I’m going to have to quit the class before a whole new group of people realizes that I’m literally incapable of not being an asshole.

If I had this superpower, that these people seem to possess effortlessly, who knows what I could accomplish, beyond sitting through three hours of this class. The other kids didn’t even look upset. They looked like nothing was amiss. What would I do with that kind of patience and zen?

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