“There is no shame in being stupid in Japan”

We were watching the news the other night, and there was a piece on how cyclists had mistakenly made their way onto the motorway without realising.  There were a few elderly people, so you could put it down to being old and doddery…but a couple of younger otherwise capable adults.  I was watching the whole time saying, “as if you wouldn’t know it was a motorway?!?!  There are MASSIVE green signs all around the entrance!  How stupid they are!”  I just could not fathom how anyone could be quite that stupid, but the presenters and my husband weren’t taking the piss at all.  And that’s when my husband said “there’s no shame in being stupid here”.  And I felt a bit bad for mocking them, because I kind of like that about Japan.  It took a while before I realised that people weren’t being patronising, but that they were actually spelling it all out so that there was no mistake.  I still hate that simple things seem to take forever, but you know, in the grand scheme of things, it probably cuts out a lot of misunderstandings, or so you would think.

There will always be stupid people, but since common sense really isn’t all that common, is it always a case of people being stupid?  And do I like stumbling about in the dark when instead I could ask someone instead?  Being proud isn’t always a good thing.  I like to think I’ve become a bit more relaxed about looking foolish, but I’m not sure.  I think there was a time when I would rather die than ask how to do something that everyone else could already do.  I spent a whole term at school in textiles not being able to thread a bobbin, but asking other people to do it for me instead.  Why I didn’t ask them to SHOW me how to do it, I’ll never know, but once the teacher (a former prison guard in a men’s prison and built like a brick shithouse) heard me asking someone and literally RIPPED the shit out of me.  “OH look! (said in a very sarcastic shouty tone) Laura doesn’t know how to thread a BOBB-IN.  We only learned it FIVE months ago!”  I didn’t touch a sewing machine after that for twenty years.  Seriously.  That woman squashed my passion.  Or did I squash it by being too bloody proud to ask her to show me again?  Actually, when I think about it, the fear of looking foolish has left me missing out on a lot of opportunities.  It’s easy to say, “don’t be afraid to look silly” but it’s a work in progress with me.  I have to say, I feel a lot better at it than I used to be, but I still get pangs of shame and embarrassment if I make what I deem to be a silly mistake, and I blush (albeit inwardly) when I have to talk to people, even if I don’t FEEL embarrassed.  What’s up with that?!?!  The only time I don’t is if I’m at work.  This leads me to think that going back to work in a couple or three years will definitely be a good thing. It’s tough starting a new job, and lots of things to learn, but I’ll have to just suck it up and ask questions if and when I need to.  After all, there is no shame in being stupid here.

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3 thoughts on ““There is no shame in being stupid in Japan”

  1. How true, I’d never though about it like that.
    And yet, often I feel like although things are explained to the nth degree, somehow there’s always a vital piece of information missing!

    • Very true! It’s hard to wade through all of the seemingly unimportant stuff to actually point out the vital things perhaps…

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