Don’t Be a Mitsy

I am by no means a “word snob.” Never have been, never will be. I use the word “like” too much when talking to ever be considered an aficionado of the English language. Sure, I love words, I covered that in my post where I admitted to reading the thesaurus for fun. But when it comes time to using them, I usually stick to the comfy, everyday words to get my point across.

I never understood why some people feel the need to use big words when speaking to others. I’m not saying that we should all walk around sounding like we’re reading from a random teenager’s text message log, but for some people there is this incessant need to sound intelligent.

Now granted, four months ago I never would have used the words “aficionado” or even “incessant” in a blog post. Then again, four months ago I wasn’t blogging. I understand that when you’re around words on a daily basis you pick up new words, new ways of using those words and new ways of sounding like a pompous ass.

This all stems from my days in college. I’ve already said that I was an average student, I made the Dean’s List several times, but all in all, I was one of those girls that just did what she had to do to get by. There was a girl that was going for English education and so she was in the same classes as me. Nice girl outside the classroom, a little stiff with her formalities, but every now and then I could break down the wall around her and make her laugh.

All hope for fun was lost the second we walked into the classroom. For some reason stepping over the threshold made a girl from Jersey sound like a stereotypical New England, old money Mitsy drawing out her words until her voice croaked from the strain. Every time she spoke I had to turn around to make sure Katharine Hepburn didn’t just walk into the room. “Well, hello, daaaaaaaaaaaahliiing.”

Whenever she answered a question I found myself reaching for a dictionary. Hm. Maybe that’s when my thesaurus/dictionary carrying became a habit. Of course, she wasn’t the only one who tried to impress the prof with their intimate knowledge of the English language. She was, however, the only one that did while looking down on the rest of us.

I’ve said it before, I love to learn; teach me, show me new ways of looking at things, open my mind to new experiences, I’m game. Just don’t do it with the air of superiority. We’re all in the same boat, wanting the same thing, reaching for the same goals. At that time it was a college degree, now, for me and many others, it’s finishing a publishable book.

When I first ventured out into the Twitterverse I was scared I would run into people like good old Mitsy. I was still recovering from insecurities that were born in those English classes, but instead of being looked down on for my simple vocabulary I was welcomed.

I thought I would have to strive to sound intelligent. Not at all, I just have to sound like me and that I can do. The writers I’ve met are very supportive, open-minded, welcoming, low key and extremely intelligent.

My vocabulary is growing and every once and a while I’ll admit that it feels good to throw a stronger word out there when I could have easily used a simpler one. But I am who I am, its not me to want to speak over people’s heads. If I would have to constantly explain myself I would have to question my idea of a great conversationalist, something I strive to be.

Have you ever come across someone who used their intelligence to knock you down? How did you pick yourself back up…or knock them down a peg? Do you come across people like this often in your work, the know-it-alls that need to rub it in your face? And why can’t we all just get along?

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About Karen DeLabar

A writer who divides her time between her family and her computer while sparing some time to her other loves of theatre, books and scotch.
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13 Responses to Don’t Be a Mitsy

  1. Shay Fabbro says:

    Most of the people I run across that try to show people up with their intelligence don’t know crap. The way I deal? Prove to them they are wrong using my own intelligence 😉 LOL Tends to knock them down a notch or two!

    The one thing I have noticed about people that always have to try to show people they are smart usually have no idea what they are talking about. The ones who are truly smart don’t need to strut around like a rooster. They carry their intelligence with grace and don’t get a kick out of making other people feel inferior.

    • Karen DeLabar says:

      Excellent point, Shay. The girl I mentioned was very smart, the problem was that so many people told her that over the years I believe she felt that was her only redeeming quality. She could be funny and down to earth but when she was placed in an academic setting all the personality was drained from her and she became showy. I actually felt sorry for her at times.

      Just have fun. I’m confident enough to let myself sound like an idiot most of the time. 🙂

      And I agree, if you’re smart enough, you don’t need to show people, it will just naturally shine through as you get to know the person better.

  2. Amy Cavenaugh says:

    I knew a couple of Mitsy’s in college – not surprisingly they were in my Creative Writing class. I often feel that I should maybe use bigger or better sounding words but one thing I like about my writing is my characters talk how people really talk. I’ve thought of changing this but ultimately I come back to trying to keep it real and keep it in my voice. You know what I mean? Maybe that isn’t that best path to take since I have yet to be published *shrug*

    Also I agree that the Twitter writing community has been overwhelmingly supportive and an overall positive experience. So glad we both found #pubwrite 🙂

    • Karen DeLabar says:

      That’s exactly how I feel (on the writing and on #pubwrite) There are times when I look at my writing and think I can flesh it out with more descriptive words or flowery phrases, but its not me. Sometimes, yes, it works and it does wonders for my writing, but I need to feel it. Does that make sense? Forcing myself into a voice that is not my own is not healthy for my writing or for me.

      And three cheers for #pubwrite!

      • Amy Cavenaugh says:

        Hip hip hooray for #pubwrite! 🙂

        Yes I also feel if I use the more descriptive “flowery” words it won’t be my voice anymore but someone else’s. And I only want to be me. I think I’m pretty cool. ha ha That said, sometimes adding a new word can really bring the sentence to life.

  3. Lisa says:

    Confession, I love to watch people crash and burn buried in their own egos. There is a person who I work with now who has even said to me that he is “the smartest person in the room.” I beg to differ, but I have no need to prove my intelligence to him. I have read things he has written, and they come off as pompous and unintelligible, and often include misused words. I giggle. I know, I’m bad, but it is fun to know that I am intelligent without having to flaunt it to receive the accolades of the masses.

  4. Susan Borath says:

    I came across quite a few of these people in college. Actually, I have worked with a few over the years, too. They drive me nuts.
    I know I can come off as a ditz at times, and I am ok with that. I know that common sense is not always my forte. At the same time, I know that, when I need to be, I can focus and be and intelligent, coherent adult.
    When my husband was in grad school, the best piece of advice given to him was that the most successful and intelligent teachers are those that can convey a high-level subject to an average person. In other words, when you try to talk over peoples heads, most people won’t understand anything you say. And isn’t that just a waste of air?

    • Karen DeLabar says:

      YES! That is great advice! And it is a waste of air. For me I actually think less of a person who talks over people. 🙂

  5. Shellie Sakai says:

    Love the post! Glad I am not the only one who has had trouble with “Mitsys”. And hopefully, I haven’t acted like one! 😀

    • Karen DeLabar says:

      Far from it friend! You are a very kind, welcoming and supportive person and one I had in mind when I spoke of writers I’ve met on Twitter. 🙂

      I think if enough of us band together we can vanquish all the Mitsys from the world….or at least knock ’em down a peg 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, Shellie!

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