Monday, September 8, 2008

geological leprosy

I mentioned previously that I had a hard time fitting in at college. You might imagine that I would find refuge in Science, in a department of people who were geology geeks like me. This was not the case.

The geology faculty had a distinct group that was “in” and one that was “out”. The “in” clique filtered down to the students, whose social structure mirrored that of the professors. The situation was a lot more complex than that, of course, but I’m trying to keep this from turning into an e-novel. As you might guess, my thesis advisor was “out”, as were his/her advisees. I couldn’t corral the other “out” students to make our own group because I realized what was going on relatively late and the other folks had either left the department entirely or (justifiably) had no interest in associating with the rest of us.

So here’s the summary of my undergraduate geology experience:

Freshman: panic. I don’t know anybody! Why does everybody else know so much? (I’d inadvertently taken classes out of the usual order and most students were juniors or higher)

Sophomore: denial. We’re all in this together! My senior friend who mutters darkly about “the cool kids” is just being dramatic.

Junior: growing awareness. Why is it that I keep having nice conversations with people when we’re alone, and then I become invisible if another person joins us? Why is this happening with everybody!?

Senior: rage. What, I’m not good enough? Y’all can kiss my ass. Watch me ace my senior thesis and graduate ___ cum laude. Then I’ll find a scientific job and in a few years I’ll be running major projects while your pet students are still “finding themselves”. Then I’ll apply to grad school in various disciplines and I’ll be accepted to every single one. Then I’ll eventually defend my thesis, publish a couple papers, and go on to do kick-ass science. So there!

Well, that got me all fired up! I’m totally motivated to go write more.

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