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Katrina is a realistic and passionate optimist focused on actively challenging the way others think about themselves, others, and their world.  She has a Master's degree in Speech Language Pathology, is a certified Adult & Kid's Yoga Instructor,  and founder of Bagus Kids, a child focused company inspired to create fun, mindful products for children.  Katrina is an avid world traveler and do-gooder working for causes in children's education and the environment. You can follow her humorous, personal reflection on Life, Dating, Feminism & Political Social Change here at  Breathe, Smile, Listen 

Octopus & Octopi

Octopus & Octopi

“As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.”

- Virginia Woolf

And suddenly I found myself on a date.

There I was at a nice restaurant having your standard get to know conversation.  He  seemed like a decent human.

The waiter comes over, “May I take your order?” he asks.

“We just need another minute,” my date replies.

Looking over the menus he suggests ordering an appetizer.

“Do you want the Octopus?” he asks.

“Ehh I prefer not eating animals that are smarter than some humans and Octopi have shown signs of intelligence,” I reply light hearted.

“Octopi? What’s that?” he asks.

I think it’s self explanatory but okay….

“It’s the plural of Octopus. Technically I think you can also use Octopuses,” I say.

“Oh wow. I didn’t know that word.  So an Octopus is smart?” he asks sounding confused and a little disappointed that I had shown signs of intelligence.

“Well they are able to navigate through mazes and use tools. I know some people that can’t do that” I say laughing.

“Oh, so you’re actually really smart.” he says sounding even more disappointed.

Ahhhh shit. There is that damn word again. ACTUALLY.

Did he really just say that?  I mean I am “smart” as I’ve established but I was trying to be funny.

Who knew citing my 4th grade paper on Octopi makes me REALLY smart and that smart is such a buzz kill.

I laugh to myself.

That was an awesome paper. I did get an A+ and I even drew a comic story of the day in the life of an octopus. And if that makes him think I’m smart wait until I tell him about my 3rd grade paper on grizzly bears. I’ve got all kinds of facts for him. I’m a f&*%$  genius really. He doesn’t even know.

“Yeah 4th grade taught me a lot,” I say.

Okay abort. Change the subject.

I should have made my way out like the Octopus escaping the aquarium but instead I stayed. I smiled. I dumbed it down.

“So you said you work in finance?  I don’t know anything about that.’” I say.

He looks very pleased, ”Well, finance……”

I smile and nod. Please let this end quick.  

“Oh I didn’t know that,” I randomly interject. He looks even more pleased.

I mean I shouldn’t say I didn’t know. The truth is at that point I didn’t care.

Turns out over more conversation he was actually not so “smart,”  though, I can see that smiling and nodding worked quite well. He was ready for the next date. Me, not so much but I was looking forward to going home and looking up what was new in the world of Octopi.

And in case this has left you curious about the world of an octopus you can watch this video for some amazing footage :)

Now recently my parents reminded me about something.  I was in 8th grade and had always been “smart” by our current school standards. I was in honor society, on the debate team, in honors classes and an after school math club.  Then one day I started to downplay this. I dropped out of the debate team, I quit attending the after school club, and I stopped trying so hard in school. My parents were getting very frustrated with me. “You’re smart Katrina. Why are you doing this?”

I told them, “I don’t want people to know I’m smart.” They were understandably beyond frustrated.

For a girl being smart was social suicide. I would get teased by kids and wanted to blend in. Dumbing it down made you much more likeable. I watched some of my “smart” girlfriends maintain their commitment to academics and as a result I watched a downhill road of attacks on them throughout high school.  (I ended up attending a high school with low standards which contributed to my “stop trying” attitude but that is for another blog.)

Fifteen years later,  I see how sad my view was. Unfortunately, many girls get to a point in their education when they begin to “dumb it down” for the sake of wanting be liked by boys, not get teased and fit into society’s expectations. Studies show that girls begin to lose faith in their own abilities by the age of 6.

So how is it that I now find myself as a grown woman with a graduate degree trying to dumb it down to appease someone else?

I was focused on making him comfortable and as silly as the Octopi conversation was it reinforced what I already knew society expected from me. Be pretty, smile, nod and make yourself “less than” to make someone else comfortable.

That has to change Katrina.

But as they say, old habits die hard.

So at the time, all I did was pause, take a breath, recognize my own ability to “dumb it down”, smile at the absurdity, and listen to what society had always told me to do.  It would be awhile before I truly listened to myself to make a change.  

But I did save my money and dive in search of the Octopi...

With Love XX


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