Saturday, November 1, 2008

Show off or shut up

What I’ve noticed over the past few weeks, is that my INSEAD experience has left me with knowledge – knowledge I can’t use, because otherwise people will think of me as a bragging miss-know-it-all.
A few examples :

Conversation over lunch at work
A : Can you believe it – his wife is going on a business trip to Dubai !
B : Dubai ?? Wow – isn’t that in the Middle East ?
A : yeah, apparently it’s booming over there ; lots of new companies and so.
Ok, please tell me - what do I have to do in such a situation ?
- Just be myself, and tell what I know ? "Uhm yeah, I know about 10 people in Dubai, who recently moved there to work for company X, Y and Z. P was contacted as well by a company in Dubai. And you know what else ? You don’t get taxed over there."
- Or : just sit there, and nod along at the question "isn’t that in the Middle East ?" (which is what I did)

Conversation with some friends
A : You know how to tell when your pasta is ready, right ? You throw it against the wall, and if it sticks, it’s good !
B : Yeah, I know – than it’s just "al dente".
A : Hmhm, I like it when it’s still like that.
Again – what to do ?
- Guys, one of my best friends in France was from Bologna, and in Italy they are simply horrified when they hear about this method. What we call "al dente" over here, is simply "cooked way too long" over there.
- Or : yeah, I do that as well ! (which is what I said)

So here I am, with all my "knowledge" - not daring to use it, because I’m afraid I’ll sound like I’m bragging and showing off. Which brings me right back were we started, and what I wrote almost a year ago, on November 19, 2007.
Back then, it was just the MBA itself I couldn’t explain to people – now it’s still that, and soooo much more. From "No, I didn’t actually practise my French a lot, we spoke English all the time" to "No, it really wasn’t like an 8-month holiday for me, and yes, I could really use one now". From "Yes, we all felt like we knew eachother for years after a month" to "No, my boyfriend is never home before nine PM, at the earliest".

I’m so tired of the huge differences between my life and the lives of the ones surrounding me – and the impossibility of explaining it all without giving the wrong impression - that shutting up and nodding at methods for screwing up pasta is what I do. And if somebody finds out that working in Dubai is tax-free, they won’t have it from me !

1 comment:

DTLF said...

"They eat what over there?"

"Ohh, that's how you use chopsticks!"

"McCain?! Really?!"

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