1. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    I feel threatened when other ppl know words I already do.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MatrixGravity, Mar 26, 2011.

    I know this may sound a bit absurd, but I feel threatened when I found out friends around my age know heavy intellectual words that I have learned. For some reason I want to be better then them, and I wish to possess a wider scope of words just to feel better I guess. I don't know what it is, but that's usually why I'm always trying to broaden my vocabulary in anyway I possibly can. Has anybody ever felt like this?
     
  2. abelsaywell
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    abelsaywell Member

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    How are you going to make use of the word if they don't have access to its meaning? Your expanding diction would be a case of the Emperor's new clothes if only you knew what the words meant.Vocabulary is less than half the tale in one up man ship, a sense of le mot juste is more important.
     
  3. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    The world (ours at least) is circular, my friend; there is no peak or highest point.

    There's nothing new under the sun; the great things you think you know were learned from others, many of whom now use your objects of grandeur for footstools.

    Concentrate on challenging yourself to know more, and don't worry about whether or not the other guy's stuff is bigger than yours. (It's never big enough :) ).


    --------------------------------------------------
    Be good, wise and strong
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Okay dude. I'm going to be direct here.

    If you're threatened by your friends having the same level of intellect as you, then I'm sorry but there's a major insecurity problem on your part. You should talk to a counselor about this.

    I try to broaden by vocab and would encourage my future kids to do the same, but for the sake of doing better in my writing and professional life --- and for kids, for the sake of doing better in school and on college prep stuff like the SAT.

    But if you're tweaking out over being way ahead in vocab for the sake of one-upping your friends, then either your friends are shallow jerks who aren't real friends if you feel you have to impress them or you are just super insecure and need to chill.
     
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  5. Florent150
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    Florent150 Member

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    I think Abelsaywell makes a good point; You should consider that the smarter other people are, the more audience you could potentially have if you had a novel published. Exceptional vocabulary is only as valuable as the people's ability to experience it.

    However, I can understand about feeling a little envious if you're known as the smarter one and want to protect that status. Unless you're really freaking out over it, it's probably normal.
     
  6. Spring Gem
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    Spring Gem Member

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    A huge vocabulary doesn't mean a thing, if you can't use the words to communicate something to others. If your goal is to become a writer, possessing a grand vocabulary won't make you a better writer. Some of the most powerful writing uses very simple words. Think about song lyrics or poetry that has expressed exactly how you feel at some point in your life. A good writer uses words to communicate his view of life to readers. Instead of expanding your vocabulary try to expand your understanding of human nature. Become a people watcher, observe how people interact and try to recreate those interactions with words. Examine your own emotions and reactions to situations and write about them. Step outside yourself and try to imagine how other people are feeling.

    Another suggestion, read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Hope this helps.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is a bit backwards from my experience. I always thought that the greatest gift my parents ever gave me was raising me around people who were smarter than I am. All my uncles and aunts are well-educated, well-read, and well-traveled people able to converse on nearly any subject you care to name, and my parents' friends were the same. I feel very uncomfortable around people whose vocabularies don't match or exceed my own. When I'm around people who don't have much education (and there are a lot of them around, where I live these days, alas), I tend to keep my mouth shut, because I don't want to be misunderstood and I don't want anybody to think that I'm deliberately trying to sound intellectually superior.

    I relax in the presence of those who understand me, and who could trounce me, if they wanted, in the intellectual gladiatorial arena.

    I guess my question is, why do you WANT to feel superior to your friends?
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that you're putting an unrealistic level of importance on vocabulary.

    Judging from some of your past posts, I find myself wondering if perhaps you're afraid of writing, if you're being frozen by perfectionism. It seems to me that you fear just sitting down and writing, because you fear that your writing won't instantly be as good as that of a best-selling author. So you keep doing a lot of prep work, and these vocabulary exercises are part of that prep. The prep gives the feeling that you're working on your writing, but it allows you to avoid the scary experience of actually _writing_.

    But you won't improve your writing without writing. If you were magically gifted with a full understanding of every word in the English language, that knowledge really wouldn't improve your writing much at all.

    The way to improve your writing is by writing. Nothing else is going to make much difference.

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. kablooblab
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    kablooblab Member

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    Speak in a different language
     
  10. Irontrousers
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    Irontrousers Member

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    But then you'll have the speakers of that language to compete with. No, your best bet is to gradually replace every word you know with made-up ones. Just make sure that your new words aren't based on any etymology whatsoever, and no onomatopoeias either, since that could provide hints as to the word's meaning. You're not self-conscious about other people being as familiar with English grammar as you are, right? If not, you can go ahead and leave syntax as it is, and you'll still be well on your way to your goal, which I'm assuming is the complete and utter inability to be understood by anyone, anywhere, ever. Besides yourself, I mean. But that, er... well... damn, that's quite a pickle.

    YOU'LL HAVE TO REMOVE YOUR BRAIN.
     
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  11. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    One of the hardest things in intellectual life can be to allow yourself to always be a student. Never be be intimidated by those around you who have knowledge. Be curious. Get to know what they know. Be glad that you are around people who aspire to knowledge as well. Learn from them and moreover, allow yourself to learn from them. You will have a much richer life for it.
     
  12. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    From my experience, someone having a large vocabulary doesn't make them seem "better." It can make them seem educated, but only when these words are used occasionally and casually--in a way where they're not actually trying. When someone goes out of his way to use impressive vocabulary words all the time, it's not impressive, it's just irritating. They're going to catch on. It sounds like what you're trying to do isn't to be better than them, but to SEEM better than them.

    The truth is that you're coming off as very insecure, and it's quite possible that your friends are getting that same sense. If they really are your friends, why are you trying so hard to be superior to them? In that case you're looking at them as your sidekicks, your fan club, not your friends. There's nothing wrong with being better than them at some stuff, but if they can't surprise and interest you then why have them as your friends? It defeats the purpose of friendship if you can't see them as equals.
     
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  13. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    Yeah I think you've pretty much nailed it. That could probably be why I'm so opposed to writing myself and always find myself trying to improve my vocabulary rather then my writing in general. I'm always scared to try and challenge myself, and write out something because I'm afraid it won't be good at all. I'm always trying to find ways to expand my vocabulary but now I don't really know if that'll change anything. I just want to write eloquently and possess a very strong vocabulary. I'm constantly reading articles people submit to websites, and I sit here and wonder WHY I can't be as good as them. I'm really ashamed at this point in time. My writing feels very subpar and I really want to improve.
     
  14. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    to make a musical analogy there is nothing wrong with knowing all the notes, there is something wrong if you need to showcase all the notes, all they time
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My experience has been that people who use words that they know the people around them don't understand are trying to sound educated and cover the fact they are talking a complete load of cobblers (and yes I am generalising).

    I do have a wider vocabulary than I use which has floored a lot of people, because I actually know what they are going on about and know when it is a load of codswallop. People who meet me in real life don't realise I am reasonably intelligent and my education is OK until i need to use it. Like others have commented people who don't want to be understood generally don't know what they are talking about.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then write. The vocabulary work isn't going to make a bit of difference; turn all that time and energy to making yourself write.

    And, yes, the first thing you write will be mediocre, or maybe truly bad. So will the second one. So, quite likely, will the thirtieth one. You _cannot_ judge your talent as a writer from what you produce at the beginning. You will never, ever know if you're good at writing, until you write a whole lot of stuff, and can see whether you're improving. How much is a whole lot? I'd say that a hundred thousand words is a drop in the bucket. Half a million words? A million words? You might start to get an idea of whether you're any good.

    Yes, I realize that's why you're not writing - you hope to find out that you're good at it, and you fear that you'll find out that you're not, and the way to avoid the fear is to refuse to write at all. But if you ever want to know one way or another, you have to start writing. Vocabulary exercises and other non-writing exercises aren't going to change the odds at all; all they do is put off the day when you actually start learning to write. By writing.

    ChickenFreak
     
  17. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    That's a poor character trait you have there.

    You sound like an "intellectual bully" akin to a big tough kid who wants to be the strongest on the block so that he can lord over others. Ultimately, that's lonely, people will grow to hate you, and it's quite frankly, UnAmerican.

    The way to be a leader is to surround yourself with equals and encourage others to do their best.

    Change your ways.
     
  18. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't sound the least bit like a bully to me MG, but I'm curious: what happens when your friends know a word you don't? I imagine your head must explode.:)

    Take it easy.
     
  19. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    You seem to really know where I'm coming from. Do you think you can work with me to improve my overall writing? Maybe give me a set of instructions to follow and I'll try my best to meet ends with them. I think it'd be greatly beneficial.. If vocabulary isn't my problem ,then I'd like to tackle the primary issue's at hand. So if you, or anybody else for that matter has any idea's on how to enhance my overall writing please send me a private message. It'd mean a lot.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mg... i just did...

    hugs, m
     
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry to interfere, I just thought this ^ was really funny :D :D :D

    And im glad you came to realize what the issue might be and are on your way of finding a solution. Apart from writing even reading a lot improve both writing and vocabulary, but I guess you already know that and you said you are reading a lot if I didnt get it wrong.
     
  22. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    I know this post is a bit older, but I feel very strongly that having a large vocabulary is not a factor in whether someone can write, and can actually be a detriment if said writer is tempted to demonstrate that vocabulary when what they should be doing is telling a story well. Unless you're writing a character whose speech should indicate their intelligence (or their arrogance), throwing around $5 words isn't going to make your stories better. Especially if they're words that most people don't know.

    The point of writing fiction (I'm assuming that's what you want to write) is to tell a story to a reader. Ideally the words should almost disappear for that reader because they get sucked in to the journey you're taking them on. That's not to say that the words you use are unimportant, because they're not. The words are what either allows your reader to become immersed in your story, or yanks them out. Big, obscure words yank people out of stories. If I have to run to a dictionary just to know what you're trying to say, I'm not going to get lost in your storytelling.

    As far as feeling insecure when other people know as much or more than you, I'll just say you'd better get used to it. There will be many times in your life when you're not the smartest guy in the room. And keep in mind that people tend to recognize when someone wants to be intellectually superior and is insecure about not being the smartest in a group, and that's just not an attractive trait. I may acknowledge that people like that are intelligent, but I don't admire them. On the contrary, I feel sorry for them. And I just plain don't want to be around them.
     
  23. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    I just don't like being inferior to the guy beside me especially when I bust my ass practicing wordplay for hours everyday and try to find various ways to enhance my vocabulary and writing structure. I'm 17 at the moment incase anybody was wondering. There is this one guy in particular I know over Facebook. We aren't friends but I occasionally go to his page, and he's about a year younger then me, and his vocabulary is on par with mine and that infuriates me. The fact that some snot nosed child possesses a superior vocabulary bothers me. The kid is still in grade school while I've already graduated and probably will be attending college in the upcoming year or so. I don't know how thats even remotely possible for this dude to know half of what I have learned. I feel like i've already lost. I feel like existing has just become pointless because no matter how much I strive to be the best, somebody is always going to be better. I feel absolutely disgusted with myself. I'm just never going to be good at anything..
     
  24. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    My experience has been quite the opposite. I learned a new word and feared that nobody would know its meaning when I use them, and it's a relief to find that most people know the meaning and usage of the word. But I have to say your case is good as an inspiration to broaden your vocab. One thing though you have to keep in mind is that possessing an array of vocab is not the end, how and when you use those words in your writing is of vital importance. I would say you can truly say you know a word when it comes to your mind at the right moment while you are writing something.

    On the other hand, newly learned words have prompted me to write inspired sentences, which in turn gave birth to whole stories. So, for whatever reason you are doing it, learning new words is always good for writers. So, keep doing what you are doing.

    Edit: Didn't see this before...

    Doesn't sound like this is about simply trying to be good at something anymore. You probably have other issues. Just remember this: nobody is perfect, specially seventeen years old teenagers.
     
  25. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    That's what you get for becoming older. :D

    Seriously, relax. You're far too concerned with others. You will always find somebody who is better than you at something. You may even find some people who are better than you at everything. So what? Do you think people will look down on you because somebody else is "better"?

    To quote another physicist, this time Richard Feynman:

    "What do you care what other people think?"

    The world isn't ranked, and nobody (outside of sports and elections) makes lists of people who are better or worse. Everybody is unique, and everybody has his own unique skills that are difficult or impossible to compare. What makes people successful in life is not whether they are better or worse than somebody else, but how they handle the situation. Do they analyze the situation, and take corrective steps, do they become frustrated and apathetic, or do they look for new pastures?
     

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