I got a sports massage last week. It was my first time getting a massage for something other than general relaxation. As with any other massage, before getting started, the therapist and I discussed my goals for the session and any injuries or personal preferences I had (e.g., my arm was bruised from a platelet donation and I really don’t like massage therapists to touch my face). As we were talking about my tight hips and piriformis issues, and she asked if I’ve had problems with a very specific muscle I’d never heard of.
I quickly answered “No,” and we moved on.
But a couple seconds later, I interrupted her and confessed I that I didn’t know what she was talking about. She explained and we were able to further customize my massage.
In the couple seconds between my lie and confession, I scolded myself for pretending to know what the massage therapist was talking about. My internal convo went something like this:
Self: Why did you just answer her? You have no idea what she’s talking about!
Me: I don’t know! I guess I don’t want to look dumb? I mean, I’m here for a sport massage—I should know about the body parts that cause me trouble!
Self: You’re not doing yourself any favors by pretending to know something you don’t. She’ll be more equipped to help you if you’re honest with her.
Me: You’re right.
Self: Great. Ask her to back up. Tell her you don’t know what that muscle is and you’re not sure why you answered her before.
Even though I corrected my error (my lie), making it in the first place was so unlike me; I don’t usually pretend to know things I don’t. It’s gotten me in trouble in the past (I was flirting with a boy on the school bus and he made a Jimmy Hoffa reference—I didn’t know who Jimmy Hoffa was—and I pretended to know what he was talking about. He caught me and we never flirted again.), and it’s just not helpful as you go about living your life. Plus, I love learning new things! And I’m certainly not so full of myself to think I know everything about anything.
So why did I do it?
I really don’t know. But I’m sure I’ll be in a similar situation again soon enough. And hopefully, by catching myself and disclosing this slip, I’ll be more prepared to get over myself and admit what I don’t know.