Questions

“Does as much power come out of a wall socket as comes out of a computer charger?” That’s what my therapist wants to know. I start to explain, talk about voltage and amperage. Actually I don’t know much about electricity, I never understood that in school.

If I didn’t understand it, why didn’t I ask my teachers, the therapist wants to know.

“An excellent question!” I answer, to get some time to think. “Well, the teachers explained it, on top of that it was in the textbooks, but I still didn’t understand it. It never occurred to me to ask, I thought that the teachers would only think I was stupid. In a way I was, because I didn’t know how this electricity thing worked… And I was lazy, too, I skimmed the texts in the schoolbooks, always convinced that I wouldn’t understand them anyway. You got points if you gave correct answers. Questions, however, were not rewarded. I always had the impression that questions annoyed teachers, because they were questions about things they had already explained. Today I think that maybe the questions annoyed the teachers because they took the questions as an allegation that they had not explained it properly. And so I learned to please the teachers by not asking stupid questions and I learned how to get points by pretending to understand.

“It’s all about you in your mind,” my therapist said, and it took me quite a while to understand.

Already at school I was very busy thinking about how others see me. Instead of learning, I kept my mind busy making predictions about what my teachers would think of me. I was quite afraid to embarrass myself. And so I was so occupied with myself that I forgot to ask questions.

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