Dazzling vs. Baffling

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit.”

This comes from my mother, who, as I am unloading a frustrating school experience, is sitting next to me and flipping through the day’s mail, listening nonchalantly. I had been talking about an essay I needed to do, but it was on a subject the class had not yet studied. I like to be prepared, so I had started the project a week ahead of schedule. Not only did I have to write an essay and make a Power Point for it, but, because it was an online class, I was required to do a voice-over recording of the topic, as if I was giving a speech to the class. It was a waste of my time, and another needless added objective to the course curriculum (in my opinion). I told her that I had gone and done my own research and everything, and I was not sure that it was on the right subject or not, but I was doing it anyway. That’s when Mom put her two cents in the pot.

I don’t know if you laughed at that introductory line, but I sure did. For one, there is something oddly funny about expletives to me; probably because when I was growing up, I had never heard one obscene word until I was fourteen years old. By then, I knew they were “bad words”. Secondly, my mother said it so factually– so casually— that it caused my brain to get off of its current track and consider the thing she had uttered.

In a split second, I went from exasperated to laughing hysterically. I still giggle a little bit when I think about it. I’ve come to this conclusion: We, as the human race, learn the art of “faking it” throughout life. We do it all the time. Too much. That’s sad, isn’t it?

We all learn the art of “faking it.”

We do this in relationships  with people of whom we are not particularly fond. You can be as friendly as sunshine toward that person on the outside; but inside, you are gritting your mental teeth and devising a strategy for slipping away. Everybody has a family member that we love dearly, but we’d rather not see them when it comes to family reunions or Thanksgiving dinner. We come up with a plan to avoid that bear hug or pinch on the cheek from those personal-space-invaders.

You can fake to your employers that you really do like your job and work hard at it. In reality, it makes you want to rip your hair out on a daily basis and throw yourself out a window.

I have to fake it a lot when I have panic attacks. At home, it’s not so bad. My family knows I’ve been having them (they didn’t know for a long time, until recently). But when I’m out in public, in my car, at work, in the middle of a massage session or a conversation, I have to pretend that nothing is wrong. I have to pretend that my insides aren’t screaming to get out and I just became as scared as hell over nothing. I am calm, happy, and confident. I am still massaging, or driving, or talking. I have to stifle tears and make sure I do not curl up into a ball to hide from myself.

If you’ve ever given a public speech before, you know how nerve-wracking that can be; but what do we do? We put on a happy face and welcome our audience. We learn to hide the anxiety. It is said that most people have a greater fear of public speaking than death. (I’d rather give a speech than die, but that’s just me.)

So what’s the difference between dazzling them with brilliance, versus baffling them with you-know-what?

Example 1: Baffle Them!

When I worked at A.C. Moore, I was forced to come up with solutions to customer’s craft problems within a few minutes. People would come up to me with ideas that they found on Pinterest or Facebook and say, “So how would I make this?” Having never made or seen the item before, or the type of material for which they were looking, I would suggest ideas off the top of my head that may or may not have been the best solutions. If you watched their faces, you could see whether the light was coming on overhead, or if it needed a new it needed a new bulb (or just a different idea). If I had absolutely no clue what they were looking for, I would ask somebody else on the sales floor.

In short, you just made your way through the Swamp of I-Don’t-Know-Jack-Squat without stumbling into the muck. Maybe, just maybe, that bulls**t actually turned out to be something worth more.

Example 2: Daring to Dazzle

When you dare to dazzle them with your knowledge, your brilliance, or your expertise, you take considerable risks. Those risk can be your fear. You are afraid that maybe you have learned all that you can, but in the long run, you really don’t know anything. Perhaps if you are put to the test — even with all of your practice and repetition — you will stumble and cause chaos. You will fail. You will not make it to the other side. Getting dirty is inevitable when you trip, but you have to move. Keep going.

This, too, is a lesson we learn throughout life.

It takes courage to dazzle people. It takes strength. Hard work gets put into the outcome. You learn along the way. The result means  reaching your goal, as well as the dignity  and honest reputation that come with it. Gaining self-confidence is also a win.

In short…

All that said, different situations call for different choices. Sometimes “faking it” is necessary. Consequently, choosing to be courageous, honest, and use what you know is paramount to being successful.

Your turn. You decide.