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Friday, March 29, 2013

Taking Off the Smartypants

I THOUGHT THE TITLE WAS LESS LAME before posting it, I AM SORRY.

This isn't going to be as angsty as my last ones. I shouldn't have to apologize for that, though. I usually just write about whatever is on my mind. I have a separate place to put all of the really personal stuff. Yes, I have things that I don't reveal even on this one. In terms of how much of my life I reveal, the social media intensity level breaks down as such: Twitter- for little meaningless things that happen during the day. Facebook- a bit more of my personal life, but with more humor and a less serious tone. Tumblr- for more important stuff. I'll occasionally go into detail about controversial events. This thing- getting a bit more detailed with everything, thoughts, opinions on the world, and rants. Then my cute lil' diary, which has everything that runs through the deepest crevices of my mind.

ANYWAY- I'm going to discuss my thoughts on the future, the structure of society, and my reactions to it. I'm going to try not to worry about coming across as conceited, whiny, or spoiled. This deals with intellectual pride, which is something that a lot of people tend to avoid in conversations. Touchy subject, especially in the environment that I am in. There are many at my school who boast about their academic achievements. I'm not going to say that it is a fully conscious choice they make. By that term, I mean- they probably don't consider all of the possible consequences of that choice before making it. It might just be something they do out of habit.

I don't know their intentions. I just think that the competitive nature of this environment prompts people to show off. People like attention, people like being better than others, they want to have some sort of an advantage. Maybe it's due to self-confidence issues. Depends on the individual.

The fight against the urges to brag about that died out a while ago. This is not an attempt to brag, and I am trying really hard to not make it sound like that.

Background- My academic peak was in middle school. Parents knew my name, teachers treated me differently, I had been used to being asked for help. I was dressed in shiny garments of accomplishment, and people constantly pointed out my wardrobe. Going to school was like walking down a runway. I didn't even dress myself, I don't know how it happened. (I didn't cheat or anything, I never had to try.)

It was only because I tested well, I didn't really try in class as much as I could have. In this sense, the success felt undeserved. Middle-school me didn't know how to deal with this attention. It was different in elementary, because not as many people were concerned about academic rank back then.

I took on the persona of a humble winner, shying away from all compliments, deflecting them and putting myself down- something that stuck with me. It became an act. Looking back, it might have had the same affect as being openly haughty about it. It seemed fake. But it was easy. I didn't have the confidence to begin with that would have helped me deal with the praise. I knew what I was capable of and what I was doing, but I didn't know how to handle the attention.

I had a reason to be openly proud, but I had the opposite reaction because I didn't want people to see me as snobby. The outside actions soon infiltrated my innermost thoughts, and I flung myself into a small bit of self-hatred. So the mask of humbleness became an actual disintegration of self-worth. That's what I took into high school.

Stay with me, it gets even more tricky. So, I was going into high school with self confidence issues and I felt the need to build myself up again. It was a combination of that history with the Freshman Bragging Syndrome. It happened once and it was a good thing someone called me out on it. Because if they hadn't done that, I would have fed off the attention. I was talking to two new people about what I had done in middle school. One just shut me down. She had a joking tone, so I don't know if she meant it to hurt me. But I took that as truth. I seriously thought about it for a few hours and decided that I wouldn't do that again.

What is the point of it? If you are truly doing all of these wonderful, glorious things, you shouldn't have to tell people yourself. People should judge you on how you treat them and others. Forgive me for making it sound like utter bullshit, but that is what I believe. People shouldn't care about how intelligent you are. If intelligence is being determined by manmade tests and a somewhat indefinite grading scale, why is there so much emphasis on it? Perhaps it is because it gives humans an easy way to compare themselves to others. Like it or not, we do it all the time. Most of us. These tests that we are judged on are a measure of the ability to work hard and work smart. They do not measure the kind of person you are to other people.

If people want to know about my academic accomplishments, they can find out through other ways. In fact, I'm betting that the only people who actually want to know about them are relatives. I find no need to bring anything up anymore, it just turns into a show. (Now, I also have to address this matter in regards to singing. I guess that's the next post.)

There are geniuses who are just internally horrible people. They care about figures and numbers and accolades, but they don't know how to be genuine and kind to another people. They see them as numbers, too. Numbers that are less significant than they are. They consider themselves superior because their own values is in the grades they made, and the scale places them above others.

I was rejected from my top-choice school, UT. That flung me into a pity session. I needed that. It was a wake-up call. Even after deciding that I wouldn't brag about so-called intelligence, I didn't make any changes to study habits. I still don't know how to work effectively. So this prompted me to work harder.

Next year, I will be attending UTSA, part of the Coordinated Admission Program for the University of Texas system. I don't quite know what I want to do with my life at this point. Part of the reason that I was so crushed when I wasn't fully admitted to UT was that I still have a bit of internal pride about my accomplishments. I thought my resume would impress the hell out of admissions officials. I just assumed that some of my titles would guarantee an almost immediate acceptance. Hearing back from them was a kick in the face. I was angry at them. I was angry at the other people who managed to get in. I compared myself to them and I was just flat-out furious because in my eyes at the time, they didn't deserve it. I would think terrible things about them, point out mistakes without seeing the mistakes in myself.

I calmed down after seeing that other people in similar positions were frustrated as well. I am able to discuss it with others at this point. I'm also excited for next year. However, I cannot bring myself to fully publicize it yet. Why? There are people out there who are more harsh on others when it comes to "intelligence". There are people who have joked about not making it into UT. (I sit near one in class and she loves online shopping during lectures.)... (It's very easy to dislike someone like that.) There are people who make a big deal about this. I hate being judged in general, but being judged on something like this is just painful.

I've been accepted into all of the other colleges I've applied to, so this is not really a matter of not being good enough. I am mostly afraid of what others will think. This is the biggest decision of my life. It's one of the only things my unoriginal distant relatives can ask me about. It's the label I'm leaving my high school with after 4 years of being here. If I were a cow, this would be branded on me before going out to get slaughtered. (I have no idea how that actually works, just jumping out because it sounds right.) I am personally pleased with UTSA. I could go to the other colleges, but this one is the most convenient for both me and my family.

Everyone says you have to live for yourself. I get that, I do, yes really. But my situation is tricky and I have to consider my family when it comes to this. I can't just go out-of-state, because the dynamics and the future of my younger siblings are at risk. A lot of personal things have happened this year that are in some ways, tying me down to Texas. While some may see that as unfortunate-- oh, she's trapped here forever, I see it as just something to factor into my plans. I cannot live for myself. I have an obligation to my family. It could be a burden if I let it become one, but I can't change anything. I can either ignore it and leave, or stay in the area and make things better.

That's the main reason I am staying. It just would have been nice if I got into UT because of the prestige associated with it. The program that I had applied for, Journalism, is one of the top ones in the nation. I cannot expect everyone to understand and accept the background information. I'm mainly concerned with the people who might actually see me differently because of my kind-of rejection.

This was, once again, a much-needed wake-up call. Oh, a bit more about CAP. Participants spend one year at a "satellite" campus, after which qualified students will be funneled into UT Austin. That's not so bad at all. So long as you meet GPA requirements, 3.2, and your credits transfer over, you will be automatically admitted into one of three colleges at UT Austin. However, it is also possible to enter into other colleges if you are qualified, but that is beyond the "safety" of CAP.

I don't know which college to enter at this point, but I am hoping that my year at UTSA will clear that up. I initially wanted to create my own career, but that's so very difficult. I was planning on combining writing and engineering in some sort of entertaining yet sustainable way. I am still toying around with the idea of writing, but I want to be able to live comfortably. I don't want to have to depend on anyone. It's not that I'm some extreme super-duper feminist who absolutely despises help from men or whatever. It's not that I don't need no man, it's not that I don't want no man. I just want to be able to support myself.

I've met grown women who have leeched off of men because they don't know how to work for themselves. They seem to have no guilt about asking others for money. They also have no guilt for not being able to pay them back. I will not be a leech. I'm terrible with guilt and I just couldn't live knowing that I inconvenienced someone.

I've had two significant encounters recently that made me reassess this whole intellectual pride thing. One knocked me down and one built me back up. A comparison was made and that crushed me. This was after being kind-of rejected and I had been thinking about the whole "not being good enough" thing. It was just poor timing and a combination of my extreme fear of judgment. I had been thinking about it for a long while, until I came to the realization that my actions, accomplishments, and failures are beyond the judgment of others. Well, how do I phrase this? I mean, people can and still will make judgments about the kind of person I am based on my numbers and titles. But I don't have to let that define me and have control of my reactions. I can choose not to think about what others think. It's hard, though.

The second incident was much better. Someone, a junior oddly enough, sent me a link to this article. It was unexpected, yet it came at the right time. (I hope that makes sense.) I could relate to a lot of what the author mentioned and it helped. It was merely soothing to know that more people felt as I did on this matter. Even more, it made me realize that people are willing to overcome their rejections, failures, whatnot.

So where am I now? I'm still incredibly confused about the future. I'm almost entirely unsure about my own abilities. All I know is that I like writing about things, I like laughing, and I wouldn't mind a decent salary. I'm going to college and it really doesn't matter what others think because I won't see most of them ever again.

I'm going... egh, somewhere. I think.

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