Do I look like I’m stupid? Good. Because evidently I am.

Step back, Mom. Let the superhero take charge.

I am a little sensitive regarding my intelligence, or other people’s opinions of my intelligence. I’m quickest to gripe at my husband if he does anything that requires me to say, “You know I’m not an idiot, right?” I hate it when someone either A) Tells me something that everyone would be capable of figuring out themselves or B) Tells me something I didn’t know but uses a tone implying I should have known it. The first one I hate because I’m not an idiot and don’t like being treated like one. The second I hate because I don’t want to feel like an idiot because someone is talking down to me. Being talked down to – even though it’s often warranted – is the thing that will get my blood boiling the fastest. Because it’s the thing I’m probably the most insecure about.

I’m not naturally smart, by any means. I always had to work hard for my good grades, and was still one of those students that could study for days for a test, ace it, and then forget it all the next day. MrZ could glance over his notes once, ace it, and remember it forever. This pissed me off our entire college career together. I have two degrees but am not well-read when it comes to literature or nonfictions. I prefer my Young Adult Wizards and Vampires…thank you very much. I often read blog posts about book clubs and feel a little insecure because the only time I ever went to a book club and felt okay about it was because the person who was holding it loaned me the Vampire book I was currently reading. I felt a little better about that. But most of the time? Eh. So, while I’m defensive about my intelligence, I don’t really every put forth efforts to make myself actually be more intelligent.

However, my Dad took grades and school very seriously. While I still stand by my Dad being the most amazing Dad I could have ever asked for – he did have a temper. And that temper showed it’s ugly face the most often when Dad was frustrated with either (A) My grades or (B) Me doing something REALLY dumb. Like locking my keys in my car. For the 15th time. The few (and sometimes many…as I was often doing stupid crap as a kid) times he’d lose his temper and scream at me – seemed to always involve me either doing poorly on something in school (WHICH WAS RARE) or me doing something airheaded (WHICH WAS OFTEN) so the screams from him would sometimes involve insults to my intelligence.

Needless to say? This is probably what has made me so defensive about my intelligence.

So – of course – the process of closing his estate has made me feel like a complete moron. First of all: I’ve made a bunch of mistakes. Some of the mistakes I’ve made were because I misinterpreted things. Others because I just didn’t know. And others because I assumed other people (like my lawyer) were responsible for those things. However, it seems like most of my mistakes were made because everyone outside the process: Lawyers, Auctioneers, CPAs, Title Companies – they all assume I know things I don’t. And that’s the part that PISSES ME OFF. I mean – why do I feel like all along this process that things are intuitive when THEY ARE NOT. Either I really am an idiot or other people have learned these things along the way when I haven’t. But how would I have learned them? Is it because most people are older when they go through this stuff so they have experience? My Dad has been dead almost a year now and he had the easiest estate on the planet…yet still! We can’t close things out because I was under the impression that this one waiver required an inventory that couldn’t be done until the house was sold. So, I worked on it all last week. Now? I find out they can’t give the estate the money for that house UNTIL THEY HAVE THAT WAIVER. And they asked for the form like I should have known all a long that they needed it. I didn’t even know what that form WAS until 2 weeks ago. BAH! They asked for a second form too which – THANK GOD – I actually have. But I didn’t know I needed that either – so it’s lucky I have it. I have no idea how I was supposed to know I needed this stuff. I feel like I’m not reading stacks of paperwork thoroughly enough – or that I missed some class in high school that everyone else had where you learn things about Probate. The thing is? It’s different in every state. So even if I had taken some sort of class like that – it wouldn’t do me any good because this is all crap from the state of TENNESSEE.

(Can you hear my frustration through the monitor? If not – maybe I should use more capital letters. That seems to make me feel better.)

I just find it a very Full Circle kind of thing that the estate belonging to the person who is probably responsible for making me defensive about my intelligence – is making me feel like a GIANT dumbass.

18 thoughts on “Do I look like I’m stupid? Good. Because evidently I am.”

  1. That sounds super frustrating. I’m sorry 🙁 Also, I do really stupid things all the time. Thankfully with remote entry for the car I don’t lock the keys in it anymore 😛

  2. You know you need to cut yourself some slack on this whole estate thing right? In my opinion the lawyers,
    CPAs, title office, etc. should be doing everything in
    their power to make sure that things go smoothly
    for you. If I were in your place I would not have a clue
    about what needs to be done and I’m much older than
    you. Repeat after me: I am not stupid.

  3. Probate/estate law is VERY hard! I took some probate law classes and most of the time I was scratching my head in complete cluelessness. Cut yourself some slack! Lawyers are the most unhelpful people out there too.

  4. I don’t really have anything to add other than to say I can totally relate. My biggest fear is being found out that I’m not really smart, though people tell me I am, and I feel like I have them all snowed.

  5. As a lawyer, I want to step up to say that it is OUR fault when things like that happen. We spend three years learning to speak a foreign language (legalese) and learn a set of principles and assumptions that underlay most everything we do. It becomes such second nature that we forget we had to learn it, that this form means something to us because we know the language and the assumptions behind it. Its our job to explain it and walk you through it, and sometimes we fall down on the job. This is not you being dumb. Try asking your lawyer to interpret something less than obvious on a map and see what happens. That’s the language and the set of principles that you know, and I’d be willing to bet he/she doesn’t.

  6. Swistle – Thistleville – Swistle lives with her husband Paul and children Robert (born 1999), William (born 2001), twins Elizabeth and Edward (born 2005), and Henry (born 2007). Email: Swistle at Gmail dot com. "Swistle" rhymes with "thistle."
    Swistle says:

    I totally agree. First, that it is INFURIATING to be talked to as if dumb. That’s the kind of blog comment that makes me want to kick someone’s teeth in, like when I vent about my husband and someone tells me I have to talk to him about it and not expect him to READ MY MIND that I want the dishes washed so that there is no sticking to them. Like, OH HOW HELPFUL, OF COURSE IT NEVER ONCE OCCURRED TO ME IN 15 YEARS OF COHABITING TO **TELL** HIM IT BUGGED ME, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EDUCATING ME. And I had NO IDEA he couldn’t read my mind, THANKS FOR THE TIP.

    And second, that probate is one of many areas of life where NO ONE KNOWS so why don’t they MAKE IT CLEARER???? We’re going through this with Paul’s mom’s estate right now, and it’s TOTALLY UNCLEAR AT EVERY STAGE. We are very, very, VERY lucky that one of Paul’s old family friends is a probate lawyer and is helping us, and EVEN SO it is not clear. We still don’t even know what the word “probate” means, frankly.

  7. I am older than you and we are settling my dad’s estate and there is just no way you would know these things unless you had done this before. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some attorneys are helpful, some think you should do everything and they’ll just pull it together and charge you for it, and a lot are in between. Don’t feel stupid, and there’s no rush. It’ll get worked out.

  8. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the people working within the realm of whatever administration assume you know the workings of it. Just because it is something they do day in and day out doesn’t mean everyone has that same base of knowledge. I find this most frequently with schools and healthcare offices but you’ve definitely run into other obvious offenders.

  9. Having someone think me “dumb” is one of my greatest fears in life. Your post really struck a chord with me on that. I go to such extreme lengths sometimes to avoid situations where I might be made to look foolish. I don’t like people playing practical jokes on me, because I feel like they make me look dumb. I hate when someone tells a joke and I don’t get the punchline (I am a master at following the cues of the others in my group and laughing at the appropriate times). The list goes on and on.
    And the sad thing is? I really am a smart person, I did well in school, I don’t have a basis for this fear. So I think maybe this fear is based on more than what our actual level of intelligence is. I think maybe we all are a little afraid that if we don’t appear smart, people won’t like us. They won’t want to talk to us, hang out with us, read our blogs, etc.
    Sorry this comment is so long, this just happens to be a topic I feel pretty strongly about.

  10. Kim @ This Belle Rocks – Mom to two young men and three furbaby girls living in a tiny town in the south. Loves: loud, live music; travel; thrift/antique stores and flea markets; reading; writing; movies.
    This Belle Rocks says:

    I am so sorry you’re going through all this with the estate. Hopefully the outside people involved aren’t trying to insult your intelligence, but have done this so often and for so long that it’s just old hat to them – to know the rules and how to play. The rest of us (hopefully) don’t have to deal with these sorts of situations often enough to learn the ropes.

    I can definitely relate, though. I am surprised at how many people think retail cashiers, bank tellers, food service folks, etc, are incredibly S-T-U-P-I-D. Some days I just want to stick my tongue out and say “My bank account may not be as big as yours, but I bet my IQ is much higher!”

    Hang in there.

  11. You are SO not a dumbass! What you’re doing is confusing and overwhelming and wrought with emotion – I can’t even imagine! Imagine what you’d say to a close friend in your position. You’d be nurturing and sensitive, “That poor thing must be so overwhelmed. What can I do to help?” I know it’s hard but try to turn that inward and take good care of yourself! (Now if only I could take my own advice.)

  12. Grape – I've got the world's best kids and husband. Great house, steady job. I'm living the American dream. The trick is to appreciate it. I'm working on that part.
    Julie says:

    Ask the lawyer et. al. if they’d like to spend a quick day or two parenting your kids or making maps. I’m guessing they wouldn’t know where to start.

    You’re absolutely one of the smartest people I read.

  13. Rachael1013 – Bellingham, WA USA – Sassy, fiery, tattooed bookworm, kinda-geek-girl, big heart, movie buff, mama to 2 crazy boys, photographer, windows down car singer following the thread of hope into a new phase of life. The written word is in my blood.
    Rachael says:

    I have luckily never had to deal with this, but I KNOW you are not alone. I don’t think that most people understand all of that estate stuff, it’s just another hole that no one teaches you about in the world.

  14. Hey, my sister-in-law is a lawyer and she still struggled with my mother-in-law’s estate. Now, there were some complicated aspects to her estate because she owned property in another country, but still, it is a very specialized process. I think it only makes sense to the people who are in it every day. And on top of that, it is a process you have to deal with while grieving and going about everything else you have to do every day. So clearly you are NOT a dumbass.

  15. I found your blog from Made in Richmond, and this post struck me bc I have just opened my grandmother’s estate and am the only living relative and am doing all this by myself. She doesn’t really own anything, and her house is foreclosing, but I still feel like I’m missing things. I’d love to talk to you sometime about the process, because I’m doing this all by myself.

  16. I totally understand where you are coming from. It’s weird too, but my dad actually cut me down growing up (as I was always doing airheaded stuff too!) and he’s been gone almost 7 years now. Not that I don’t still hear his voice in my head, and through everyone else’s voice when I screw something up!

    I think it’s just a matter of being sensitive… if you are aware of your sensitivity to such comments you can better prepare yourself for them, and blow them off. When “everyone thinks I’m stupid!” type thoughts are at the forefront of your mind, anything anyone says is going to sound like an insult. I go through the same thing, I just have to tell myself most people probably aren’t trying to cut me down.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply