September 8, 2006

"Bill O'Reilly made me a little nervous once, but that was because he was very tall and took so long to order his Irish oatmeal."

Says Cathy Seipp, answering one of 12 Silly Questions, "Which persons you've written on have most scared you?" More:
Did you have to develop a thick skin or does it come naturally?

I guess it just came to me naturally, although naturally we all become less sensitive to what others think of us as we grow older. Or at least, we should. The alternative is to remain forever a sensitive adolescent, and that's kind of pathetic.

Did you have to develop your self-confidence to write as fearlessly as you do or did it come naturally?

Again, I think most people naturally gain confidence as they age, if only because we develop a sense that we finally know what we're doing. What puzzles me is why so many people are scared of so many ridiculous things.
Yes, you young folks, notice this. It's true. But you don't really have to wait until you're older for it to happen! You can read this as advice and arrive early at the place where aging will take you naturally. But maybe you can't. It's all about emotion, and the brain really does change with age. Still, it might be useful to think about, to assuage any fear you might have of growing old.

UPDATE: Cathy writes about the silly questions piece (and this post) on her blog.


SWBarns said...

I think that the process of gaining the experience and knowledge necessary to become self-confident is important. There are a lot of people who are self-confident without having gone through this process, typically they are insufferable.

Elliot Essman said...

Wisdom in life comes in spurts. Sometimes you only realize you've got it in the same way you realize your headache is finally gone; you cannot pinpoint the exact moment.

Yet the young can grow in a revolutionary way also--all in an instant. All it takes is putting your foot into your mouth and soon knowing it. Last night at a social gatherine a 20-something made an ethnically disparaging remark at which a 50-something said "ahem."

You could cut the atmosphere with a drink-stirrer. I doubt the foot will be put back into the mouth any time soon.

chuck b. said...

I was just reading about the brain changing with age! This article talks about how teenagers make decisions in a part of the brain that doesn't process empathy, so they understand less the consequences of their decisions, or how those decisions affect others.

Freeman Hunt said...

My husband and I were walking a relative's dog a few years ago, and the dog marked a bush by the curb in front of a house. A woman came out of the house and started screaming at us. We kept walking.

The conversation we had just after:
Me: "Wow, she was really mad."
H: "Yeah, she was."
Me: "Do you think she's over it now?"
H: "I don't know."
Me: "I wonder if she'll yell at us next time we walk by there."
H: "Probably not."
Me: "Why did her yelling bother me and not you?"
H: "Because you're three years younger than me."

bill said...

Ruchard Feyman said it best What Do You Care What Other People Think?

howzerdo said...

Before she died, I remember my aunt telling me during the many hours I spent with her when she was ill that she eventually learned not to do things out of obligation and just because it was an expected, when it was something she didn't want to do. (An example would be accepting an invitation to an event such as a wedding or shower, when you would rather stay home and do something else or have plans that others feel should be canceled so you could attend). She said it took her until age 60 to realize this, and she advised me not to wait so long. Not that there is much risk of this in my case, since my role model (mother) has never done things solely out of obligation and I try to follow her lead.

Ann Althouse said...

t took me a long time just to distinguish between what I wanted and what other people wanted or even to notice how hard it was to see when I was in a situation where this needed to be done. Then to actually do it... Seriously, I was over 40 by the time I got there.

SteveR said...

I do think the process can be accelerated but its a matter of time. In some ways, perhaps, it protects us from ourselves. I would have been dangerous at 20 with the self confidence I have at 50.

Brent said...

I find Cathy's comments all the more poignant because she is fighting lung cancer, and gets in some very public non-PC fights with others such as Al Franken, Lawrence O'Donnell and Nikke Finke. Cathy Seipp seems fearless to me.

I'm curious, Ann - have you met her?
I think it would be interesting to know if many well-known bloggers who also write for other publications have personally met many other blogger/writers.

monkeyboy said...

I think as we get older, we realize whose opinion are worthwhile and whose aren't.

I'm just to darn tired to care what people I will probably never see agin think of me.

monkeyboy said...

...oh, and I find the idea of Bill O'Reilly taking a long time to order oatmeal note perfect. it probably came with a long diss4ertation on his working man bonafides.

noah said...

Its really quite astonishing that Cathy Seipp is still alive. But I know from personal experience that it has nothing at all to do with her fighting spirit, indomitable will and all that nonsense. I've known hundreds that never gave up but succumbed nevertheless.

PatCA said...

I know Cathy, and she is indeed fearless--as well as witty and graceful under pressure. She possesses that rare ability to attract adoring friends from every political corner, and I will happily join them at the roast to honor her.