The Higher You Are, the Harder You Fall

I have always had personal issues with confidence– overconfidence, that is. Overconfidence is kind of a funny thing because I don’t believe that we should neglect or be embarrassed by the things we are talented at or have worked hard to achieve. For example, sometimes it is kind of hard or embarrassing to discuss intelligence or academic achievement with people (especially friends who are not at the same level academically), and while I may gloss over my actual scores and grades when I talk to people, I refuse to allow other people to think I am not smart or that I am not proud of high test scores, a remarkable undergrad GPA, and getting into a competitive Masters program. But even that last sentence makes me sound a little full of myself. It’s not an ego-stroke, its a confidence issue. Overconfidence has been a blessing to me in a lot of ways– I have tried new things, I have stood up to and for people, I’ve demanded to be heard, and I’ve earned a lot of respect for using my confidence wisely.

Sometimes I don’t use it wisely at all, and those moments lead to some of the best misadventures the modern mugwump has yet to experience.

On numerous occasions in high school I utilized my overconfidence to beat a point to death (i.e. “Hey Romans, Christianity is swell, but I really appreciate that you invented democracy and I would judge that to be the best contribution you made to the modern world. Don’t get me wrong, yay Jesus and all, but allowing me a voice in how my world is created and controlled is a little cooler”).

Unfortunately for the NDSU administrative staff, they all have a few more grey hairs after my overconfident wrecking-ball of a self made some reasonable demands, er, requests from the school. For instance, if I get a letter that says you cancelled my scholarship despite 3 consecutive 4.0 semesters and no one will fix it, I create appointments out of thin air. And if you can’t reasonably work out why it might have been stupid to send official pre-graduation documents that were time-sensitive to my home address 270 miles from my local address, overconfidence may make me believe that its reasonable to sit in your office for 2 hours until you fix it.

And overconfidence hasn’t just struck in my academic life, it has seeped into my personal life as well. All the stories of my youth seem to end in “And then Katie took her toys and went home because no one would play by her rules.” Okay, that might be more controlling than confidence, technically, but I think in those situations they went hand-in-hand. And later in life my overconfidence really shined through in a break up in which a fairly nice gentleman who had stopped being fairly nice for about a week, finally had the guts to actually end our courtship (we were definitely NOT in a relationship) by saying I was a nice girl, but he just didn’t really like me. My response was not one of hurt feelings or acceptance that he just wasn’t in to me. Instead I honestly said to him, “That’s not true. It’s something else because NO ONE doesn’t like me. Everyone likes me. You maybe aren’t attracted to me, but you like me– everyone does.” I cannot believe I said that, but even more embarrassing is that I definitely believed that, and I still sometimes do.

And while I will continue to be overconfident and say things similar to “Driving is easy, anyone can do it” and then fail similar things to a driver’s test, this week has been a good lesson in the practicality of “The higher you get, the harder you fall.”

Last semester was punctuated with phrases such as, “Grad school is a little more difficult, and I have to work a bit harder, but I was definitely up to the intellectual challenge and if you pay attention it’s really a breeze.” And then the 4.0 of my first grad school semester rolled in and I wasn’t even on Cloud 9. I built myself such a gorgeous pedestal of awesomeness, that Cloud 9 was simply a spec below my feet. I mean, really, a 4.0 in grad school? You can just go ahead and sign the diploma now.

Ahhh, second semester: this verse just like the first, eh?

CRASH!

Gravity was a little stronger than I remembered, because when that pedestal cracked earlier this week I missed Cloud 9 because I blinked on my way back to earth. Long story short of this semester: I can see that the words are English, and I can see that my professor is human, and I even recognize the meaning of some of the words by themselves, but when they talk or I read I have no idea what’s going on. And my friendly shadow, Overconfidence, led me into a project that is maybe a little bigger than I was ready for. But Pride, the buck-toothed first cousin of Overconfidence, won’t allow me to pick something easier. There is a lot to do, in a little amount of time (which is, of course, why I am blogging and not doing homework). I got a little overwhelmed, and I would say it almost got to me today. But then the good parts of overconfidence came rushing in like little EMT’s with a stretcher and reminded me that not everyone goes to grad school and it is an honor to be in such a wonderful program. I am smart enough to be here, and I will make it through this. And I was foolish for thinking it would be easy. Nothing this expensive is ever easy. Except vacation. Which this is not. And if nothing else, at least they like me– everyone likes me. 😀

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Things I Am and Things I Am Not

I am:
1. A serious student.
Wow, I have 14 credits this semester, which is a lot for grad school. In truth though, one of the classes is only 2 Saturdays and one is only the second half of the semester. It’s all manageable and I love what I do at school. A lot of times when I get home at the end of the day I am absolutely electrified about what we have talked about in class during the day. A lot of my classes right now focus on planning and evaluating health programs, which is certainly key to what I will someday do in my career, but they are very information-dense courses. In the evil step-sister corner of my public health education is a second semester of biostatistics. Mathematics and I get along well, however this semester brings on SAS. Unfortunately, this is not ‘sass,’ as I have already mastered being sassy. This is statistical programming software that taunts me with error messages every time I try to run my program, resulting in my squinting at the screen, combing through every entry in search of the one forgotten semi-colon (out of dozens of code lines). Because without that single semi-colon, the program tailspins into mathematical destruction. Gah.

2. A Caribou Coffee Barista. Yup. I started work this last week at Caribou Coffee near Uptown. I am still learning the ways of the job, but its a job and I am very thankful to have a little income right now. I have been working early mornings twice a week and that is definitely an adjustment, but it feels very doable. I am definitely tired at the end of the day, but I can also afford to take some naps on the days that I work so early.

3. A Nanny. Well, I haven’t really started but I have also been hired to nanny for about 3 hours a weekend for a Minneapolis family. The kiddos are cute and the family is so wonderfully flexible with my school and work schedule. My first job with them is actually cat-sitting while they are in DisneyWorld. I wouldn’t mind a trip to DisneyWorld.

I am not:
1. A Natural-Born Swimmer.
I started swimming this morning with some of the lovely ladies I go to school with and we are planning on going twice a week for the semester. I don’t exactly know what I would say about what happened in that pool this morning, but I swim about as well as a one-legged stone duck. The positive side? Swimming (or thrashing in a general direction through the water) is an excellent workout, I had fun with the girls, and I can only get better. Because if I get worse, I will probably drown. Also, this training brings me that much closer to my goal of completing a triathlon this summer. Five months to go!

2. Immune to the Winter Cold. All that training from four years of living in Fargo is absolutely gone– if the temperature dips below ten degrees I don’t even want to leave my house. I have spent more time with my electric blanket than any other possession in the last week. I love that silly thing. It can warm up any time now.