It’s Good To Be Underestimated (A Tool To Stop Self-Judgment)

Note: This is a guest essay by Denise Barry

We have all heard the saying, “A man is rich according to who he is, not what he has.”

So, why do we forget this?  Why do we judge ourselves based on how much or how little we have?

It’s an enigma, because deep in our hearts we know the truth.

We know that we are no less and no better than any one else.

But we play the game anyway. We believe it to be true, more often than not.

I remember when my husband and I had been married for only a few years, we were living paycheck to paycheck.  Ray had just taken a job at a small company where he didn’t get paid much. He hoped the company would grow and he would grow along with it.

He traveled quite a long distance back and forth to work. It seemed like he was putting half of his small paycheck inside the gas tank.

So, we decided to trade his car in for one that got better mileage.

We bought a small used car from a guy I was working with at the time. A Toyota Tercel.  It was shiny red, and cute as a button.  Since it was a stick shift, which I didn’t know how to drive, I learned while I was eight months pregnant.

I could barely fit behind the wheel! My belly bounced against the steering wheel as I made the car jerk and stall.  It was hysterical!

Our friends loved teasing Ray when they saw him driving that car.

Since he is six feet tall, his head just missed touching the roof.  This meant he had to keep his hair trimmed, or it would brush against the roof and tickle him, in an annoying sort of way.  In order to get in and out of the car he practically folded himself in half!  It was quite a sight.

We were always laughing over that car.  It was a happy car.

One day, Ray’s new boss invited us to a party at his country club.  This was exciting for us because we had never gone to a country club before.

“So, we get to see how the other half live,” we joked.

As we pulled into the parking lot in our little Tercel, we were surrounded by cars that cost more than our house had.   We realized, for the first time, how small and cheap our car must look.  We parked between a BMW and a Mercedes Benz, which diminished it even further.  My self-confidence diminished along with it.

All of a sudden, I questioned whether or not I was dressed appropriately. I figured anything less than designer attire would be looked down upon.

Every cell in my body was screaming, “I am not good enough!” 

All I wanted was to go back home, order a pizza and devour it while watching re-runs of Roseanne on television.  That would put me back in my comfort zone.

I looked at Ray.  He looked at me.  “I don’t want to go in there,” I whispered.  I could tell he felt the same way.

After a pause, he took a deep breath.

“Well, it’s good to be underestimated,” he said, with just enough confidence.

I don’t think any statement, before or since, has encouraged me more throughout my lifetime, than that one.

Beyond the words, this is what I heard:

They can judge me all they want, but they have no idea who I am.  This car isn’t who I am.  Even if they don’t, I know who I am.   

Yes, that was the reminder I needed.  I knew who I was, as well.

I squared my shoulders, held my head high and walked into that country club as if I had been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Ray and I had a blast that night.

How could we have believed we were equals to these people who had so much more than we did (at least, by appearance)?

Well, it’s because we are equal – every last one of us are.  But don’t take my word for it.

Check inside yourself and you will see.

In every single one of us, there is a built-in Truth-O-Meter. 

The truth of who we are is perfection itself.  For some of us, who we are is a little harder to find, because we get so wrapped up in who or what we should be.  But if you’re open to it, the truth will reveal itself to you.

Today, my husband is the “boss” of many people.  He realizes he is accountable for the work they do (or don’t do).  Even so, he never forgets who they are.  Because if he did, he would be forgetting who he is.

P.S.  Our beloved cute-as-a button car stayed in our family until it’s shiny red coat turned rusty.  RIP  Tercel….

Note: This is a guest essay by Denise Barry


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