I have a perpetual feeling of stupidity. It is unbelievable pathetic and I get so mad at myself. I cannot form complete sentences around smart or intimidating people. My brain shuts down. I try to say something smart and it comes out as a stuttering disaster. I hate feeling incompetent. So much anxiety. (Maybe I have agoraphobia. Let's pretend I don't.) I am trying to feel more competent and I decided to look at learning in a new way. I cannot believe it took me sixteen years of school to realize it, but I am glad I did before I was completely done with college. So onto my epiphany...
Learning is not a checklist. As much as I love lists, I would hate the Learning List even if one could be found. It would never be completed. Ever. Even if I read every book and talk to every person, knowledge is always changing. Learning takes acceptance and connections. If I don't know how to change my oil then my brother does. If I don't know which state to register to vote in then my sister does. If I don't know if my bank is about to go under and I need to switch then my mom does. If I don't know how to get the internet through a USB adapter then my dad does. If I don't know... Nevermind, I think you've got the point. I don't know a lot... but other people do! I hope I have something people could come to me for. I am not sure what it is but maybe. You cannot just focus on one field and block out all other information. No one would want to talk to you if you only ever talk about the evolution of monarch butterflies (honestly, I wouldn't want to talk to you if you only brought that topic up once). I am sure everyone knows people who know something about everything. I have three brothers-in-law like that. (Yes, Bryan. You are one of them.) And it is a very admirable trait. I have come to the realization that I have to let go of some things. I have tried too long to be good at everything and I have ended up being barely average in everything. Harriet Braiker said, "Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing." Amen.
School is supposed to be interesting. It is supposed to change me; make me think more about who I am and who I want to become. All of college so far has been a checklist: I just need to get through my classes in order to get a diploma, get a job, and be successful. I was completely missing the point! I was always trying to memorize. I wanted the professors to tell me what to write down so I could later learn it and regurgitate it for the exam. This semester, I am genuinely interested in what I am learning and I love it. I don't want to just pass the test and forget it. I want to be able to talk about it.
I always thought of my brain as getting full and I needed to kick out some information. Naive, I know. My cousin is majoring in theater and I asked her if she forgets her old lines when she learns new ones and she said she doesn't. They are all still rattling around somewhere. Well, duh Emily. Of course. I have so much "room" left! Time to go shopping!
I know about some things. Don't write me off as a complete imbecile. I know about sign language (although my self-efficacy took a beatdown when I came to BYU). I know about baseball (but I cannot tell you anyone's ERA). I know about swimming (but that doesn't mean I worship Michael Phelps). I know about some parts of psychology (not even close to all I should know). I know nothing about The Beatles. Big deal! (I can sing every country song that came out between when I was fourteen and seventeen.)
So my lesson from this... Just because someone does not know what I know does not make them dumb (and if I do not know what they know I hope they would give me the same benefit of the doubt). We have different interests. I hope that when they have the home field advantage they will be willing to kindly educate me instead of ridicule.
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