Part of the gems of growing older is being able to painfully see and experience the asshole nature of your younger days. I encounter people or situations that make me think twice about someone's sanity, and ask myself, "Oh my, was I THIS way at their age?". Most often than not, I absolutely was!
One aspect of my younger years of which I am least proud of is my cockiness. Oh, how foolish I must come across in front of my older peers; it's painfully embarrassing even today to recall all the ways I made a fool of myself. The one huge failure of all graduate schools might be their utter inability to teach students humbleness and respect for hard-earned experience; in essence to keep your feet on the ground. Out of graduate school I stumble onto the workforce armed with an dangerous and irrational dose of overconfidence and total disregard for real life, in-the-trenches learning. I walk into my first real job filled with assumptions about everyone and everything. I assume I hold the answers to all problems. Yet, the most damaging assumption I bring with me is the one that thinks I know more than even the parents about their own children. Mind you, all these assumptions are not consciously expressed, they are tacitly demonstrated through my actions creating all sorts of havoc and painful learning experiences coaxing me 'gently' back to the proverbial ground.
The dilemma now in being slightly older is 'what do you do when you someone that reminds you of your cocky self years back?' Do you gently bump them to reality? or do you allow them to just be? I have to admit that the painful learning experiences I received as a result of being too cocky have caused me a great deal of confusion and pain initially, and it's only over a decade later that I have begun to see their true value in my life; only now am I able to be thankful for them as a vehicle for higher inner growth. So to try to bump them to reality is essentially placing yourself in a very negative space with this person for a long time. Cocky people (and I can say this having been one) have a very hard time being 'made' to touch the ground.
Nevertheless, the dilemma begs to question, what is the right thing to do in terms of these people in social situations? My general impulse is to run, not walk, away from these people and seek more even keel, sane social situations. In trying to battle with this I often ask myself, what would the all compassionate and loving Buddha do? Perhaps he'd say that to walk away is again a result of my own inner cockiness and absolutely NOT a decision filled with compassion and love. In Buddhism, attempting to change an external aspect of the world is always held under the umbrella of 'suffering'. Therefore, most likely, Buddha would not advocate addressing the issue in hopes of changing the 'other'. On the other hand, I am almost sure he'd say that I have tons more to learn about me and being around this person is just the solution to even deeper inner growth. Perhaps my lesson to learn here is that I have so much to still conquer and learn about how my OWN mind works. My inner self tells me that If walking through a room full of pompous, cocky young people still bothers me still, I MUSt have lots more ego to burn still. Time to get to work Miriam!