I have a love/hate relationship with being told that I can’t do something. On the one hand, it makes me try even harder and I love to see the look on the person’s face when I prove that I can. On the other, it’s really, really annoying that some people think they know all and can decide what I can or cannot do.
The person who sparked this particular rant was, oddly enough, my coworker Marc. Around 5:50pm on Friday, Marc got a call from his girlfriend. He said something in Chinese, but then they switched to English. After he was done, I just made the offhand comment “why don’t you guys just stick to one language?” So he wheels his chair back and actually gets all excited and animated–which is uber weird for Mellow Marc–and at the end of his little speech about how it’s so easy for them to switch back and forth, he’s like “isn’t that amazing?” I can tell that I’m supposed to be really impressed, but I’m actually not…. I mean, I’ve lived up here over a year, so this is hardly the first time I’ve been around people who combine English with another language in a conversation. Even in Illinois, my friends and I would do that with Spanish, and I did it a bit with the one Russian girl in my class in St. Petersburg. So I shrugged and was like “Yeah, it’s cool. And in a few years, I should be able to do that comfortably with Russian.” His response? That he doesn’t see how I could ever be fluent in Russian.
I was a little caught off guard, but was like “Well, I have this text book thing I’ve been using for about a year that gives me the basics, and then I’ll build vocab through movies, magazines, books, etc, and if I can’t find anyone to speak with in IL, that’s what the internet is for. I mean, I know it’ll be way harder since I won’t be surrounded by it, and I know I’ll never speak it like a native, but I can get close enough to fluent if I try hard enough and continuously work at it.” He didn’t buy it and just kept saying how it wouldn’t work and he didn’t see how I could do it. Umm, yes, I can, and who asked you anyway?
Marc’s usually a pretty smart guy, but I think that went to his head, because lately he’s been showing the side of his personality that thinks that he knows everything about me and what I will do and what I can or can’t do. For one thing, he doesn’t know me. He knows the person I present to him at work, but he doesn’t know me. We mainly talk about sports, and that’s hardly all of who I am. Yet he’s 100% sure that I’ll come back to live in NYC after I leave. I don’t think so, but even when I shrug and say “maybe”–because it could happen, I suppose, when the kids are older–he restates that it’s not a maybe, it’s a definite thing.
And then there was the whole marriage thing that I blogged about before. One of the reasons that he’s so sure I’ll come back is because when I go home, I’ll have “changed and everyone will be able to tell and I won’t really fit in anymore because I’ll have the big city personality, which doesn’t jive with the small-town one where everyone gets married young.” Wrong again. Yeah, I’ve changed from being up here, but everyone changes at my age. It’s part of being my age. And I don’t have a “big city personality.” Given the choice between NYC and IL (assuming that my family would be wherever I chose to be) I don’t think I would choose NYC. I mean, it’s an awesome place with lots of awesome things, but certain basics–like a good educational system–seem to be missing. And again, it’s a very small percentage who get married that young. We have other things, like careers, to worry about first.
I don’t know, I suppose I’m just tired of people like Marc thinking they know me better than I know myself. Dr. Seuss pretty much summarized my thoughts on that when he wisely stated that “there is no one alive who is youer than you.” And since I am the me-est me, doesn’t it follow that I’m the one who knows the most about me?