"Our spontaneity IS our superpower."

I decided to write about Cluelessness because I'm not that bright, myself. I often feel stumped enough to conclude that I might justifiably claim that I'm not quite bright enough to qualify as not that bright. The Muse insists that I complicate my life by over-thinking it. I can appear aloof and dismissive even when I try to appear engaged and inclusive. I read others poorly, which means, in my experience, I read others about as well as they read me. Being a cypher to myself, being misread by someone else fails to very deeply disturb me. I figure that some things aren't really meant to be read.

I've delved into several self-assessment instruments, managing to keep a straight face through most of my delving.
A pattern emerged. At first, the assessment results seem remarkably prescient, as if the questionnaire had read my mind. I strongly identified with the self presented to me, so much so that I would mistake it for definition about me rather than merely information about me. Definition seems definitive, "This is who I am." Information, to continue the tautology, seems informative, "Consider this." Definition undermines my ability to think and conclude for myself, while information helps me make perhaps better informed choices about who I really prefer to be. I can accept or reject information, but not definition.

I'd eventually outgrow the juvenile initial definition and start to question the conditions under which I might or might not match up with the preferred portrait. Situationally, I might well appear to be a driver, even to myself, but when I'm my shoes-off-self, I seem naturally much less obsessed, even sanguine, more thoughtful; more a watcher than a driver. Who am I really? Both, And, as well as neither. I'd begin to see cracks in my initial acceptance and temper some of the more glaring absolutes. I'd also begin to consider whether my results highlighted abilities or preferences. I prefer to primarily work with my right hand, but my left hand isn't completely disabled. It has its uses, too. Sometimes my preference even works in concert with my unpreferred to play my guitar together.

Finally, I'd come to understand that I was never what the instrument at first seemed to insist that I was. I always have been a kind of chameleon, subtly shifting both preference and ability, trying, I suppose, to match the context within which I found myself. I'm capable of performing many acts I prefer not to do at all. I am not my 'type' and my 'type' isn't me, either. I'm more complicated than that. You probably are, too.

Among the most baffling instruments are the ones purporting to gauge an ability labeled Emotional Intelligence, or EI. The creators and proponents of this frame of reference insist that in addition to intellectual intelligence, people also come equipped with an emotional parallel. People with high EI get along well with others. They seem to be able to better read and respond to the emotional turmoil around them, and also to project more pleasing emotional states. The promoters make all kinds of claims about the necessity of developing one's EI as one key to becoming a more successful [fill in whatever preferred role title you prefer], 'Leader' being perhaps the most commonly mentioned role. Everyone's a leader and who could possibly argue against becoming a better one?

The proponents chased me away as soon as they started explaining what they were up to. They wanted to survey the team to determine each member's EI, then initiate a series of trainings focused upon increasing everyone's EI, not just those assessed as deficient, but those initially rated as adequate or better, thereby creating a shared vocabulary for further future improvement. The whole scheme smelled funny to me. I am sometimes capable of cloaking my emotions, though it seems that everyone notices something missing when I do. I have enjoyed some success re-framing my emotions into some more palatable form, ex post facto, of course. Tears can be both troublesome and a great relief, depending upon how I choose to interpret them. I have not ever so far been able to choose which emotion to feel. My emotions just arrive, sometimes overwhelming me. I can, only after the fact, make meaning of the tsunami that just washed over me, but I'm no actor able to summon up an authentic emotional response to properly suit a situation. I don't want that superpower.

I've found that the unbidden, over-the-top emotional "outburst" often sparks some conversation that brings some formerly unspeakable into the conversation. I depend upon the apparently more emotionally immature to serve as the canaries in this deep dark coal mine we call a workplace or a home. I am fully capable of reverting into a five year old without any warning or apparent control. I'm hardly ever as mean as a five year old, but sometimes every bit as untethered. I don't want emotional intelligence. I figure my emotions come just as intelligent as they need to be, which includes sometimes off-puttingly clueless.

I can, of course, appreciate how the more controlling among us might aspire to level out the proverbial roller coaster at work and at home. One emotionally rampaging rhinoceros can wreck a team and undermine what we all thought we were working toward together. But I can't quite squint enough to believe that anyone's really in control of their emotions, which were designed to emerge unbidden to inform us about some unspeakable something haunting us. Squelching this reaction by smothering it in some superhero cloak of intelligence seems to miss the more significant point that we're all, quite inescapably, little kids in big people bodies. Our spontaneity IS our superpower.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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