Of course people can’t excel at everything. We all have our strengths and natural affinities; sometimes you’re not really good at something because it’s just not in you (like maths and science seem to be for me), and sometimes, because you don’t really care and find no point in getting better.
That being said, one of the biggest pet peeves of mine is people who overtly brag and take total pride in the fact that they’re reeeeally bad at or ignorant about something. It always makes me feel weird and like they’re completely missing the point. It's not that I strive for absolute robotic perfection... And while it’s OK to have our own little weaknesses, the general idea is that there’s always room for improvement in our lives, and mastering new skills/learning new things is a good and positive thing, right? Not that you should in any way be ashamed or put down about what you’re less than great at, but I don’t think you should be proud of it, either…
Three areas where this especially bugs me:
Computer literacy: These are getting rarer by the minute, but you still find them from time to time, people who are so happy to tell you they don’t own a computer, have never used the Internet or even sent email, etc. I’m not talking about the elderly here, but middle-aged people, sometimes even media personalities, who appear to have caught some sort of a technophobe snobbery. Maybe this could have been refreshing 15 years ago, but how could you ever still be proud of this fact? Seriously, how could you keep up with the world now otherwise? I’m not saying everyone should be super savvy and proficient, and I’m the first to admit that there is such a thing about being too much of a slave to technology, but come on. SO MUCH of our lives revolves around it now, can you imagine what you would be missing without it? How can you be proud of being grossly outdated and ignorant? Whenever I hear people like that, I always think, geez, and the joke is on whom?
Fitness and nutrition: I try to eat well and be active, although I am in no way holier-than-thou and have my occasional cravings and binges (nearly 1,500 unhealthy calories in a single greasy Chinese meal last week, yuck). I never asked anyone to be the same; some people never received any education about that and inherited bad patterns, some never asked themselves these questions, some know but truly don’t care and choose not to bother, and on top of that our whole society model is one of sedentariness and overeating bad, processed food. So yeah, it is really much easier and more convenient *not* to do that, whatever your reasons. But if I have a salad for lunch, forgo dessert, or reply to a question by saying that we don’t really eat red/processed meat or refined grains, etc., I am often teased, or nearly ridiculed. There’s a certain snark and the person proceeds to go on and on about how good it is to eat whatever they want and be lazy and that at least, they will die happy. Show some good faith here… Eat hot dogs and industrial individually wrapped cakes all you want, I don’t care! I never said I was better than you, I never said I had all the answers… But still, how can you feel so self-gratified about something that goes so far against any common sense?
Homeliness: Recently, a woman whose blog I sometimes read bragged, yes, bragged, about the fact that her family had celebrated Thanksgiving at Applebee’s, for a second year in a row. Why? Because she can’t cook to save her life, why are you asking? She seemed really offended that people were surprised about this, twisting it into a bizarre and far-fetched feminist argument (like, why do people assume I can cook because I’m a woman? Next thing is that they’ll assume I can also do needlepoint?)
I was kind of baffled. I don’t care that she’s not a good cook, after all that's the case for a lot of people. But did she really understand the point of Thanksgiving, at all? The specialness of the food, setting, and occasion? I’m sure plenty of people hate to cook the whole roast turkey works, but they surely have come up with other workarounds/tricks: suck it up and do it anyway for their loved ones, have someone else cook, make something simpler, order in, organize a potluck, etc. And here’s what I think these people don’t do on the one night a year where you’re supposed to celebrate your family bond with a memorable feast: go to a completely lackluster and ordinary restaurant to have a hurried meal of generic burgers and fries. You may say I’m totally judging her, and I guess you’re sort of right; mostly, I just felt a little sorry for her family.
But I didn’t mind the Applebee’s as much as the fact that she was proud of it. It’s not because you’re a woman that people assume you can cook: rather it’s because you’re an adult, and a person who takes care of a family… Needlepoint and cooking cannot at all be compared in this case: cooking is a basic life skill. To survive, you have to eat, and presumably (unless you’re very rich or stay with your folks all your life), you will have to cook, at least to some extend. You don’t ever have to become great at it if it’s not your thing; but as you grow older, people will reasonably assume that you have graduated from frozen pizza pockets and cup ramen noodles to simple, but decent meals.