Friday, April 16, 2010

Growing Up Under the Microscope

I'm going to start out with a serious subject because it's something that hit me hard today.  I was reading the campus women's issues publication, Artemis, earlier today for the first time.  There was an article on how many women who are otherwise intelligent and successful often feel like impostors.  I can certainly identify with this feeling, but that's not the big "ton of bricks" realization that hit me earlier today as I sat up in Cartwright between classes.  (And got bread crumbs all over the magazine from my lunch).  I wrote some of my thoughts down earlier, so I'll share them here:  

"Do I procrastinate so I have an excuse if I fail?  This seems a fitting explanation for my behavior over the years.  There's always been that extra pressure on me to perform - to be the smartest, highest achieving, most talented, good-at-everything, most successful, know-it-all.  

The first pressure was from my parents.  I was a smart baby, smart toddler.  I showed promise going into school.  I learned quickly and I did well.  Teachers loved me.  When I was in third grade I tested well on the CAT test (California Achievement Test) and got a ticket to the Challenge class.  In Challenge, I often felt like the favorite - she sometimes expected more of me than the other students.  Everyone saw me as a brain in my regular classes.  By fifth grade, I was getting straight A's in everything.  

I competed in spelling bees in 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  I was involved in music, playing saxophone for 7 years.  I was always on the honor roll and, in high school, the Dean's list.  I got into National Honor Society and won the Phi Beta Kappa award (highest GPA and ACT combined in the graduating class).  I was involved in everything from tutoring to Student Council to blood drives.  But I graduated #4 (with two valedictorians), but with above a 4.0 GPA (with advanced and AP courses).

There was so much to live up to.  My sisters both saw me as the smart one.  They sometimes struggled in school, but I made it look effortless.  That was my job, after all.  But I still procrastinated all throughout school.  I graduated with honors and went on to college.  I joined the honor's program there and got on the President's list (4.0) my first semester.  I maintained a 3.9 GPA and later transferred.  At Kent, I got a 4.0 my first semester here.  But I haven't been very involved since starting college.  At Johnson, I was in choir, but I have yet to join any groups at Kent.  I've been putting off getting a psych advisor and had no luck with a job or research experience yet (which I have to have to get into a Ph.D. program, which happens to be my career dream) and I've been putting off getting a transfer evaluation sheet signed.  (Which taps into other issues for other days).

I feel like a failure sometimes and it's easy to think I am not good enough.  It's easy to think I may never reach my goals or fulfill my dreams for the future.  I put off studying and papers.  I had a test this morning that I barely studied for and I knew I could have done better.  I guess if I'm not perfect, at least I have an excuse.  But if I do succeed, I must really be something right?"  

I guess a lot of things have come easily to me in life.  I barely had to try to do really well in school.  I picked up drawing and writing with little effort.  I pass exams with flying colors on little studying.  But deep down I sometimes wonder if I'm just a fraud, like the article said.  What if under all this confidence in my own intelligence and self-expression through writing, I really have no idea what I'm doing?  I realized I use procrastination as an excuse so that if I do fail, I can blame it on just not being prepared.  Then I won't have to say that maybe I just didn't understand the material.  Then I won't have to deal with the idea that maybe I don't know everything.  Maybe I'm just, sort of normal.  

Click here for the Artemis blog.


1 comment:

takitusmaximus said...

it isn't necessarily a bad thing if you don't know what you're doing. look at it as an open spot in your life that you can fill with any opportunity. you're still young and that means you don't have to have your whole life planned out.

you'll get over not wanting to deal with stuff as you grow up. i never used to want to call people or go see them but i realized that it really isn't that big of a deal and when you finally do it, you can get respect from people.

you aren't a fraud. you are just different from other women and honestly, being different is the best thing you can be.