Hidden Stupidity

Stupidity is often obvious, like the malodorous scent of a skunk. Other times, it’s subtle, mild, undefined and slips in unexpectedly from typically trusty sources, such as parents, dear friends, mentors, teachers, beauticians or mail carriers. In my case, all conspired to change the course I’d chosen for myself.

Just prior to graduating law school, I was exceedingly fortunate in obtaining an almost perfect job. I loved my extraordinary boss. She hired me despite my being an average student from an average school whose talent, if it existed, was completely hidden to the naked eye.

I worked my way from an intern to a law clerk to a lawyer for a company that represented the movie/TV studios in labor negotiations. There was just one problem. I detested labor law like I detested finding a stray hair dangling from my mouth after an innocent bite of salad. My boss generously allowed me to continue to work for her while I hunted down the right job.

I desired a spot as business affairs counsel for a studio. My attainment of this position seemed as likely as my growing a beanstalk, climbing up and sharing a mug of hot chocolate with Jack’s giant. To succeed in my endeavor, I needed either: an ivy league degree, gilt-edged law firm experience, inside knowledge of the secret fetish of an important movie executive (not yet known by the rags), adoption by a Brangelina type couple or willingness to engage in unmentionable activities (as this is a PG-13 rated blog).

Not one to stand still, I opted to take virtually every business affairs attorney in town to lunch in an attempt to display my sparkling personality and to convince them that I was the chosen one. I ended up with empty pockets.

I did manage to nab several interviews, however. Even second and third interviews where I was certain the job was in the bag. Unfortunately, none panned out. My last one was particularly irksome in that I forgot how to speak English for a few brief moments while meeting with the head guy, a name brand producer.

“Nice to meese you,” I said charmingly after we were introduced.

Needless to say, I wasn’t even asked to sit down.

I’d made little headway. Soon after, almost everyone I knew advised me to seek work in another field of law. Business affairs jobs were hard to come by. And one needed plenty of solid experience. Where the hell is experience supposed to come from if no one is willing to give you a chance?

My boss suggested I go where all other newly minted attorneys go when first seeking employment: the government. Specifically, the District Attorney’s office. Even my dearest mom seconded that motion reminding me of the splendid benefits as did my friends, former professors and the beautician, even though she said the head D.A. was a terrible tipper. The postal carrier, tired of seeing me perched atop the mailbox, day after day, awaiting a positive response to the countless resumes I’d sent out said,

“Why do you do this to yourself? You like being rejected?”

Damn right I didn’t. But my sights were fixed. I didn’t want to work anywhere else. Picture an incredible craving for an ice cream sundae and settling instead for cold mashed potatoes. I didn’t want to stop trying. Yet every seemingly authentic human I knew advised otherwise.

I caved in and nabbed an interview at the D.A.’s office. I’ve relived that experience twice; once alive and in person, and the second time, in great detail in my book. I can’t bear to do it again here, not even for my cherished readers; so in summary, we mutually agreed the position wasn’t for me. And yes, a heavy, dust-laden legal treatise accidentally landed on the assistant D.A.’s foot with a fairly strong downward force, mid interview. I left knowing I’d not be back.

Despite the rumblings from all that chances of getting the job I wanted were slim, I finally found my perfect position just a few months later. Success had been lingering just around the corner despite appearances to the contrary.

I wonder how many of our dreams, large or small, are dashed or sidetracked, due to well meaning advice? I often hear complaints from readers who encounter stupidity in the form of unsolicited suggestions that go against the grain of their desires.

“It’s not going to happen.” “What’s the use?” “You can’t do it.” “That’s stupid.”

Beware of anyone who calls your desires”stupid.” You know what they’re really saying: “I’m stupid.”

Ultimately, the voice you must listen to is your own. Life is filled with good intentions. And you know where that road can lead.

Think for yourself or someone else will do your thinking for you.



7 Responses to “Hidden Stupidity”

  1. M.C. says:

    I know I’ve gotten unwanted advice like this before. And these people insist they’re right too! It is best to figure it out on your own. This is a good post!

  2. stewart james says:

    Around the dinner table, my mother and sister used to want to know all the details of my life so they could advise and/or criticize. So I just stopped giving them the details. It was either that or stop having dinner together.

  3. Agnes Mildew says:

    What an utterly fantastic post, Keli. I clung on to your every word there – great words of wisdom…indeed, when I get to work today, I am going to print your blog off and stick it on my kitchen cupboard door upon my return. It will hang alongside works from such illustrious writers as Matt ChingduvĂ©, Charles Parsnip and daughter #2. And you have a book? May I ask for more details as I should very much like to read it if it is for sale!

  4. Sarah says:

    How did you finally get the job? Was it through one of the lawyers you wined and dined?

  5. Mary says:

    I love how you are/were so persistent – eyes on the prize and all. I tell me kids the same things and I hope they don’t listen to the subtle conspirators.

  6. Keli says:

    Thank you!
    Stewart James:
    I think you made a good choice.
    Dear Agnes! I am honored to be hanging on your kitchen cupboard door in such illustrious company. Thank you! My book is still in progress and rest assured, there will be a complimentary copy with your name on it once I’m done.
    I got the job through a blind ad in an entertainment trade paper. I was the perfect candidate as my paranoid, jittery boss wanted someone who was totally nonthreatening to his position. So we both got what we wanted.
    Thanks! I’m sure your kids are too smart to listen to the conspirators.

  7. Jack Payne says:

    You sure have an ironic wit, Keli. You zoom in nicely on the old axiom: Everybody is somebody else’s weirdo. How true. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them. Then, it’s all downhill from there–alas, in far too many cases.

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