I deliberately lied to someone a few days ago. It was at work. I was helping one of my staff as she was training to work on a new project. She was interviewing me and I was playing the role of a research participant. Usually, when doing this, I would give answers as if I were one of the many people I've interviewed in the past but this time, mainly because this was a study I'm unfamiliar with, I just answered the questions as myself. I don't eat meat. I have never had a colonoscopy nor been diagnosed with polyps but my mother has. My father had elevated PSA levels but was not diagnosed with cancer. I walk about 30 minutes a day. I have three children. I weigh 150 lbs. I'm 5'7" tall. I work as a research study interviewer. I've completed, um, 16 years of schooling.
There it is. I lied about my educational background. I actually stunned myself when I did. Well, first I kicked myself for not anticipating the question and giving fake answers.
I'm asking myself some questions:
Am I ashamed of my lack of education? No, I don't think I am. Frequently frustrated, yes, but not ashamed. Actually, I'd say I'm really proud of myself to have done all the things I've done without the educational foundation that so many people take for granted (the pride issue would be gist for another post).
Is my ego attached to how people perceive me? Yes, some. The woman I was working with is a very nice person; she's quite a bit older than me, has family in the same part of Indiana that I do. She's a college professor but I think comes from humble beginnings. I don't think she would judge me harshly as a person. I don't care if she, personally, knows that I didn't go to college. Personally, I don't really think I much care if anyone knows. But professionally, that's a different thing. I'm not a terribly ambitious person but I do want the opportunity to grow in my job and in the department. I have staff under me who have masters degrees. I think there are currently 2 people in our department, besides myself, who have no higher levels of education and they're both in part-time, uncareer-oriented positions. I am very good at my job and I want to be taken seriously. I'm respected as a leader. I don't think that would change if word go out that I am "uneducated" but it's not outside of possible that some people's attitudes toward me could subtly change. I might not be taken as seriously. My authority as a leader could very well suffer, which would damage my potential for advancement in our department.
I have no intention of rectifying the misrepresentation. I didn't lie to change her perception of me, more to maintain the current perception of me as qualified to lead. Having a degree, particularly in an academic setting, is almost a universal requisite: I am the very rare exception. I lied because I want to maintain the level of leadership I hold. Yes, I suppose that is ego but it's ego rooted in pragmatism. I guess if I stepped way back and looked at my situation with the broadest perspective, I'd see that having this job or not is ultimately not important. In this lifetime at this time, I do need a job. I don't know if this is where God wants me to be but this is where I am and I haven't felt any leadings to leave. Although, I guess I could interpret my need to lie about my background as a disconnect from what best glorifies Spirit. But, working for this world renowned institution in the epidemiology center gives me credibility to do other things, effect other changes in the world that I might not have if I were, say, a nanny or working in a bookstore. To me, it feels this is a good place to be. I trust God to nudge me when it's time to make a change.
This leads me to an interesting meditation on sin. A post for another day...