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The Little People

October 5, 2010

One of my all-time favorite quotes is this gem from Mark Twain:

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” –Mark Twain

I think about this quote often and I try to surround myself with people who are supportive and people who know that there’s enough success and joy and happiness to go around for all of us. This week, I was thinking about this quote in a different context, too. Not for ambitions, but for choices. After I moved to the United States, I met many people who started criticizing and belittling my taste. My choice of music, books, movies, etc. (I don’t think this is related to being in the US, just happened to coincide with that time in my life.)

I’m going to specifically talk about books because that’s nearest and dearest to my heart. You can say many things about me but there’s no question that I am well-read. I’ve read most of the classics as well as most of the award-winning books. I can read literature without worrying and I even enjoy it. I’ve read lots of Shakespeare or whomever else you might consider “high literature.” And yet I loved reading Twilight or Eat, Pray, Love or whatever other books someone else might consider “trashy.”

Before some of you object, the only reason Eat, Pray, Love (which I absolutely loved, by the way) is on that list is because I was sitting at my book-club meeting two months ago and one woman said, “Did anyone like that book anyway?” I almost fell off my chair. It never ceases to amaze me how completely high and mighty some people can be. I replied “I loved it and so did millions of others since her book was a major bestseller.” And it instantly made me mad. I remember when I was living in New York and there was a huge Harry Potter craze (this was when the second book was about to come out.) and people were criticizing how her book was terribly written blah blah blah. I kept thinking, here’s a book that has kids waiting in line at a book store at midnight. it’s a book. not a video game. what more could you possibly want?

When people said things like that in the past, it would just make me feel small. I must be not as “polished” if I liked the music that was too common or the books everyone read and judged as non-literary. But in the last few years, my attitude has been changing and now I keep thinking, these people can go you know where. I don’t need people like this in my life. I don’t need people judging the way I spend my leisure time. Telling me what things are supposed to give me joy.

What do they know? What makes them a better judge? Honestly, most people just worry about looking good and they feel like if they put you down, you will be too embarrassed and not expose them for who they really are. I don’t need any such people in my life. I don’t need others to validate my taste in things. My ability to judge what gives me joy.

So while these people aren’t belittling my ambitions, they’re belittling me and making me feel small. And I say it’s cleaning time. Time to put these people out with the trash. And get some “really great” people in my life. Those who support and love me just the way I am. And it’s also time for me to look at the people who are supportive in my life and appreciate me the way I am and show some gratitude. Those great people are rare and deserve a lot of appreciation.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. lorigentile permalink*
    October 5, 2010 8:15 am

    Awesome post, Karen! I agree wholeheartedly. By the way, I despised Eat, Pray, Love. I couldn’t get passed how incredibly selfish she was. I’m pretty sure you don’t love me any less! hee!

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