Monday, June 04, 2007

Let Them Eat Paste

So I'm at my workshop, which has been going on for a week or so, and will go on for another week. It was a bit of a rough first week for a number of reasons: I just finished teaching a summer course, two days before that, I had just finished out the semester. I was in a huge rush to get things ready to come out here (see shopping dilemmas below). I wasn't quite sure whether coming to this workshop, which is really centered around a field adjacent to my own, was the right thing to do. Upon arrival, I've been in classes for 8.5 hours a day, which is a lot like a real job. These activities involve meeting new people, which I really dislike and which makes me a paranoid, self-conscious nutbag.

The primary reason that it's been difficult, however, is because I find that in these kinds of situations, I revert to my 4th grade self.

What do I mean by that? Cast your mind back to the days of elementary school. For some of you, it may have been an idyllic time of four-square and long division, but for me, it was a bizarre mix of self-imposed social alienation and soaring egotism. I was bored stiff in my classes because things were easy to learn (this clearly changed by the time I hit physics in 10th grade); I wanted to hang out with the adults and talk about books; I was repelled by most of my classmates, but simultaneously I wanted them to like me and acknowledge my smartitude.

All of these nauseating characteristics were back in some form or another this past week. I've been listening to the comments of some of the very fine comments of my classmates, and I find myself snarking away internally. "Well, obviously, J. hasn't considered point X, which is something everyone knows!" "I know that people are here to learn, but honestly, this stuff is so easy!" In the service of exhibiting my knowledge, I've been chatting with, and, if I'm honest, performing my expertise in order to mark myself as one of the "smart kids" in front of the instructors. True jackass move. Meanwhile, I'm cringing when the conversation turns to the common field priorities that everyone else has that I'm lacking. "I'm so ignorant! Why don't I know this stuff?"

Could I BE any more judgmental and lame and insecure?!!

Thankfully, with two things have helped me get my 4th grade self under control: first, the continuous daily mantra "don't be an asshole." You'd be amazed at what that can do for you and your public behavior, if you just repeat it 100 times in the morning, and 20 times before you raise your hand in a discussion. Second, the start of a new week learning things I don't know. Here, I find that my inner geek pummels my 4th grade self into submission with her ebullience and enthusiasm.

So, goodbye Tales of the 4th Grade Fluff, and hello geekgirl. Let's hope that this makes for a better week for everyone here.

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Blogger Beth said...

Ugh. Why do we let our fourth-grade selves come back? I was the Please Don't Notice and Tease Me girl, with freckles and buck teeth and glasses thicker than Coke bottles. And she's still here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007 1:09:00 PM  

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