Has this ever scenario ever happened to you?
Woman and Man (insert your own names....) attend a corporate party with all of the co-workers and big wigs of the company. Business talk, small talk and corporate conversational etiquette ensue as the topic of the moment turns to Alma maters, degrees, corporate positions and accomplishments. The business rhetoric makes its way around the sea of well dressed, well versed, well educated, and highly accomplished gathering of faces. You feel the tension build like an overstretched rubber band as the discussion approaches you. Here it comes, the questions.... your answers....
Q: So, what do you do?
A: I stay home and raise our kids.
Q: What's your Alma Mater?
A: MU, Mom University - (chuckling)
The conversation quickly moves past. Eyes, faces and even bodies turn away to face the next "professional" person. You could feel it coming, you withstood the discomfort of the questioning, then had to stay as you felt minimized, overlooked, undereducated, and just plain less than the others in the room.
Now this scenario doesn't have to revolve around a corporate setting or be hung upon degrees, status, or position. It could be hung upon an interest or industry that is not shared by you, but by others in the room. It also doesn't have to be the woman who feels less... it could be the man as well.
The point is that when we feel left out, like we have nothing to contribute, like we haven't met the same goals, position, or status as others, sometimes we just feel... well.... less.
In fortyness we have each had a lot of life experience that has made us at least proficient in many of the necessary functions of life, and most likely experts at others. What we may feel like we "lack" (it really is just non-familiarity or non-interest) in one area, we more than make up for in another. We may feel like we know nothing about the conversation in the room full of financial analysts talking about macro-economics, but we might be an expert at connecting with, and understanding people. We may not be able to do the complex formulas that the analysts are spouting off like slang, but we can watch their body language and see the messages behind the words they are saying.
In fortyness we each need to embrace our inner Einsteins. Einstein was not a genius at everything he did. He probably didn't master EVERYTHING. He was human, and so are we. But he was a genius as somethings - as are we. Those things have tremendous value and are a part of what makes our lives, our relationships, and the world function. We must not overlook our own strengths, compare them to other's strengths, or think that they are any less important or necessary than others.
So, at the next encounter when we feel like we are not worthy or smart enough to be in on the conversation, we should listen with interest - we just might see that we really do understand more of it than we realized. But more importantly, we need to realize that our inner Einsteins are alive and well, contributing to different conversations and making the world a better place.