Curious Latina

Sonia SotomayorGrowing up, I was one of those kids who could barely wait for the
teacher to finish her question before I had an answer. Asking my own questions, however, was tougher. I thought asking too many questions was a sign that I didn’t understand something immediately. I saw asking questions as an expression of inadequacy.

I was, of course, wrong. With time and experience, I’ve learned that asking the right questions at the right times is actually an
expression of confidence, control and comprehension.

When Sonia Sotomayor was up for nomination to the Supreme Court, personal profiles always noted Sotomayor’s once-concern that she was not “smart enough.” It’s a concern many of us can relate to – even after we’ve graduated from well regarded colleges and scored professional victory after professional victory. And there is always the fear that someone else will think “she’s not smart enough,” tag us as not belonging and our own insecurities will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Perhaps Sotomayor’s confirmation gave her a previously elusive sense of self – because on the Supreme Court’s opening day, Justice Sotomayor let that questions roll. Forget that this was her very first day – she acted with the ease of a seasoned veteran. In fact, she asked more questions than Justice Thomas has asked in the last several years. Perhaps part of this Latina’s wisdom was learning to trust herself enough to know that she has a question, it’s probably a good one.
Alicia is a communication consultant based in Washington, DC.  Check out her blog at

  1. Adelaide Dupont

    Someone else who asks questions “out loud” and encourages other people to do so is Irshad Manji.

    When she was at the Melbourne Writers Festival she talked about the foundations of this, and how it made her into a Muslim refusenik.

    One question which comes out of this post is: What do you think the differences between fear and insecurity are?

  2. Danine Spencer

    Alicia, I am completely serious when I say this. This might be one of the light-bulb moments of my life:

    “asking the right questions at the right times is actually an expression of confidence, control and comprehension.”

    I may not remember that you, Alicia Menendez, said those words, but I will probably remember for the rest of my life that asking smart questions is a sign of brilliance and confidence.

    Thank you for sharing what is probably a hard-earned piece of wisdom. You are appreciated!

    Danine Spencer


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