In my philosophy class yesterday, we came upon a topic into which I have unique insight, which I felt they would not hear from anyone else unless I shared. The catch was, in order to do so, I had to admit one of my greatest insecurities to a room full of strangers. When the chance came for me to choose whether to speak or stay silent, I jumped into the conversation. It felt like I was throwing myself off a bridge and leaping onto a moving train--it had to be done impulsively and instinctually or else it would not happen.
When I spoke about it, I did so nonchalantly, as if I did it all the time. It wasn't as hard as I expected, because I spoke with a purpose: sharing knowledge. Much of my understanding of the world comes from my experiences, as well as watching and listening to other people. I was hoping that by listening to other people glance into my experience of the world, I would help them see theirs' differently. However, my comments did not contribute to the direction that my professor was intending to go with the conversation, leaving my revelation to be an awkward side note.
I sat in my chair and chided myself for being so foolish. Why did I have to be so open? Why did I think that was a good idea? I was mortified. I sat in silence for the rest of that discussion.
Then the conversation shifted, and my professor posed a new question: Is being shy cowardice? He said that shy people often remain silent out of fear, which oftentimes is irrational. He said that to be afraid is not being a coward, giving the example of having a king cobra in the classroom. To go forward and try to catch the cobra with your bare hands would not be courageous, it would be stupid, running out of the room would be far wiser. He said it is not irrational to fear the cobra. However, fearing to interact socially is (sometimes) much less rational. The most important point he made though was that if you have something unique to share in a discussion and you choose not to share out of fear, then that could be considered cowardice. Choosing not to share because you want to keep the knowledge and your ideas to yourself so that you can revel in your cleverness and feel special is selfish.
That brought me to this question question: was I being brave or stupid by sharing what I did? While I am still embarrassed that I made my comments, I know that I did so for the right reasons. I had no idea where the discussion was going, and I thought that by sharing my experiences, it would help everyone in the room. Had the conversation gone in the direction I expected it to, it would have been selfish not to share, because I would have been putting my own comfort above the education of everybody else in the class. But it didn't, so I still feel foolish, but I can at least take small comfort in the fact that I made an error in judgement with the battlecry "Only Connect!" in mind.
Truly, Sincerely, Honestly,