I’ve always enjoyed playing dumb.

Not to a great degree, or to the point of deceit, but I usually prefer to be underestimated. Not so much for a calculated, strategic reason. More because I get personal entertainment and delight out of it.

It’s not too hard for my personality. I’m pretty exuberant and cheerful. When I enter a new scene, I often initiate chipper conversation with people and tell dumb jokes. This tends to convince more the serious-minded that I am a happy-go-lucky guy without a ton of depth of knowledge. I don’t claim that I do have a ton of depth of knowledge, but I am often in the position of knowing more than people around me assume.

I’m not sure why this entertains me. I’m not trying to toy with people, but something about having knowledge or ability unknown to anyone but me gets me excited. I like stories of hidden sages dressed as fools. While I don’t think I am a sage nor do I come off as a fool, something about the disparity between reputation and reality is thrilling.

Unless that disparity goes the other way. I can “fake it till I make it” a little, and sometimes some projection or bluffing can be useful as a bridge from where you are now to where you think you can go if people give you a chance. But for the most part, having a reputation that’s better than I am isn’t attractive to me. Those rare occasions where I’ve been mistaken for an expert on something I’m not, I have quickly tried to turn things towards an area I know better and emphatically insist I’m not an expert to the point of downplaying what I do know.

I guess I don’t like the idea of surprising people with a reputation-reality deficit. I prefer sneakily knowing more than they’ll ever realize. Something about it makes me feel empowered.

(Of course now having claimed to enjoy playing dumb, you are prone to assume maybe I know some secret wisdom, or that I’m making it all up so that you will think I have secret wisdom. Now I’m confusing myself.)