I Haz Smartz

Some days, I feel like a total idiot.

No, not some days. Most days.

Here I am, in a graduate program in literature sitting in classes with Ph.D. students that have written books that the History channel has bought rights to and made into a series.


I have to be in class with you and do presentations on my research in front of you when you have been a college professor for 10 years and decided to get your Doctorate?!?

Cue panic.

Granted, there are also undergrads in the class, but they don’t have to do the same research presentations that the graduate students do. Lucky kids. Oh to be in undergrad again and having hardly anything to worry about.

Just this morning, my friend M and I were being silly in my office before class and rocking out to Queen and reading about Resse Witherspoon getting hit by a car and talking about where we wanted to get margaritas this weekend. And then I hear some people down the hall having a heated discussion about the feminist leanings of writers in the Victorian era and about all the sexual repression in the literature.

Yeah. These actually happen. These conversations take place daily in our hallways. All the time. With very smart things being said about very smart topics that make my eyes glaze over and wonder if they were speaking French.

I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve been out of school for a while, but I feel like I am just not even close to being as smart as these people. It crosses my mind that maybe I’ve somehow fooled the admission committee and I’m really not cut out for this program.

And that, my friends, is a terrifying concept.

What if I really am not going to be successful at this? I went through not having a job. I’m taking out loans to help cover what my assistantship doesn’t. And I don’t even know if I’m going to be good at this.

Yes, I enjoy the teaching part. My observation went well. But do I have what it takes to be a successful master of literature?

Who knows.

It’s all a bit intimidating.

My plan for that scary research presentation is to just go first, that way if I bomb, at least I was first and won’t have to see how awesome they did before I go up there and look like a 5 year old.

Yes, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Yes, I’m sure I will get into the swing of things. I’ll figure it out and do what I need to do.

So for now, I’ll put my headphones on as I watch the End of the World video and wonder what Beyonce will name her child and put a smiley stamp on my students’ assignments. Hopefully if one of those super smart people come into my office, it will be one of the times I’m not on twitter or drooling over Kate Spade things. Hopefully.



Filed under A little More About Me, Grad School?, Learning More, Teaching in College, What to do?

6 responses to “I Haz Smartz

  1. Oh goodness, I would feel the SAME way. But I’m sure you’ll do fine!! And, in my opinion, I wouldn’t want to be stuffy and smart all the time. Sometimes you just have to talk about Reese Witherspoon, you know?? 🙂

  2. I would always try to go first for presentations! Everyone else is so worried about their own, and you get it out of the way and can relax.

  3. Okay, stop thinking that you don’t deserve to be in that program because you do. You are smart, talented and an asset to your university. You’ll make a difference in student’s life, you will be praised for your work and you will do great. Usually when I hear conversations that are way beyond my level of comprehension I tune out because I get two distinctive feelings: 1) okay, now you’re just showing off and I am just going to roll my eyes and give you a dismissive wanking motion and close the door to my office and 2)I know plenty of things and I may not be an expert, I am sure that there are times I start talking about a subject that people’s eyes glaze over because they have no idea what it is that I am talking about.

    So, don’t worry, just enjoy your time at your uni and one day you will have that conversation where you are so into it and know so much that people are going to be thinking “Damn, I wish I were as smart as HER!”

  4. Don’t worry about not feeling as smart as those other people. Seriously, who talks about images of sexual repression in Victorian novels in their spare time!? As a fellow lit lover (and English Lit degree holder), those people sound boring. Plus, while you’re out doing fun things, they’re probably at home having the same discussion with their 15 cats (all named after Bronte characters, of course).

    If you weren’t smart as hell, you wouldn’t be in the program. You’re going to rock it. Don’t worry about the show offs and know-it-alls. In the end, you’re going to have the same degree as them, but at least you’ll enjoy getting there! Good luck with your program! 🙂

  5. newkidonthehallway

    Okay, FWIW, I made it through a Ph.D. program (so there’s my expertise), and what you’re feeling is so common it even has a name: Imposter Syndrome. It is INCREDIBLY common for people in grad programs to feel this way. (Especially women, sad to say.) My friends and I all felt like imposters through basically all of our grad program experiences. It has nothing to do with how smart you are (actually, it’s probably a sign of being smart, because if you really were dumb, you wouldn’t even notice any of these things!).

    As for the very literary conversations – I’d bet they were not first-year students, yes? You, too, will get sucked into having such conversations and come to find them normal. In many ways the biggest thing a grad program teaches you is not actual stuff, but how to act, think, and feel like an academic (that is, a member of a particular profession) (kind of like learning to think like a lawyer…). I’m sure those people are still also interested in Beyonce’s kid and Kate Spade and whatnot – it just becomes another way of talking/thinking, on top of everything else. (I have to say that one of the best times I had as a TA in my grad program was one morning where about 10 TAs were gathered in our office with a list of lines from 80s songs and we had to try to remember the song title/artist based on the one line from the song. We could all still have deep debates about history with the best of them, but the pop music conversation was so. much. fun.) So the fun stuff/literary stuff isn’t incompatible.

    Anyway. The first few weeks of anything new is always weird and difficult. (I started a new job this week and have come home and crashed at about 9 pm every night because it’s just exhausting adjusting to a new setting!) But like you said, you will adjust and do great!

  6. You are incredibly brave to go back and put yourself through that. Trust in yourself – you are smart enough to be there!

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