Until very recently, I thought Alaska was an island. Stew on that humiliating gem for a second.
I won’t dwell on why I held onto this belief until age 30, or the awkwardness that ensued when I finally learned the truth, but I’ll tell you what I learned from the experience of being completely embarrassed by something seemingly simple.
1. Never assume that someone should just know something. As much as we may expect or want another person to know a certain thing or behave a particular way, given our own familiarity with it, this kind of assumption will frustrate you and make others feel foolish. So, communicate. You can easily address what may seem obvious, but isn’t necessarily clear to everyone.
2. Humility is awesome; I think it’s one of the characteristics I admire most in others after humor and generosity. If you mess up, or don’t know something (like the location of your country’s largest state), own up to it. Embrace it. It’s tough, and probably not the path we’d choose, but scrambling to cover up a mistake rarely pans out. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re in for a lifetime of disappointment.
3. Learn from your mistakes, or else they’ll make themselves comfortable. It’s unlikely I’ll forget the geographic composition of Alaska again, but in lots of cases, the way we act or approach things is harder to adjust. The sooner you’re able to acknowledge an error and determine an alternate solution, the lower the chances you’ll become a repeat offender.
In the event you’re still struggling to pick your jaw up off the floor at my geographic ineptitude, in my humble defense, I attended college on an academic scholarship, and graduated with honors. I tend to think of myself as intelligent, but it would appear there was a tiny lag in my education with regard U.S. geography. I would have benefitted greatly from a few more science classes. Sorry mom and dad.