A Thin Facade

Confession: My ego is a fragile little beastie. There will always be people who tell you to shoot for the stars, expect the very best, throw the little fish back and cast another line. Unfortunately these people are the minority. The vast majority of your so-called friends and aquaintances will take any opportunity to bring you crashing back down to earth. Often this is done with no malicious intent but a strong belief that people should be realistic and stay grounded. Consider the outcome of these two recent (somewhat paraphrased) conversations:

1) A chat with a recent aquaintance/friend-to-be about the absurdly competetive Trudeau Scholarship:
Me: I am applying because I was encouraged by my supervisor to do so and because I will probably benefit from the process.
He: If you want my honest opinion, I think that you should focus on producing the best possible PhD applications. The scholarship is so competetive that only the very best have a chance of winning it. There are so many amazing people out there and it is just so time consuming.
Me: Well, you never know unless you try. I think at least that I can make it through the departmental process (they submit 2 candidates to the university).
He: *raised eyebrow… Well I don’t know who else is applying, but…
(at this point I decide to retreat as my afforementioned ego has been mushed into a sad little pulp)

2) Speaking with my friend/soul-sister:
She: I am woman hear me roar.
Me: More like “I am woman, hear me cry, rail, and have a complete depressive breakdown.”
She: I love you. Screw the world. And then dance. You don’t need anyone’s mind but your own for now.
Me: That is good advice.
She: Someday the world will see the beauty that I see in you… and so will you.
Me: I know that in theory but it has been a *&#$ week.
She: Leave the #$*@ where it lay. Do it.
Me: Done! Ps. let’s go crazy town… because we can, and we rock, and its you and me against the whole mad circus.
(at which point we begin to discuss the benefits of BiBimBap vs. Tacos… or something like that.

So which conversation was more satisfying? Which left all parties more satisfied? Which brought more positive energy? I will leave it for you to decide.I acknowledge what friend #1 is saying and he certainly has a good point about time management but I cant help but cringe at how worthless, low, and anxious the whole thing made me feel. For my part, I am going to make an effort to be more supportive of my friends, no matter how crazy their dreams. The truth is that you probably get more out of being talked up, trying something impossible, and failing than you ever would from being grounded, accepting mediocrity, and never being rejected. My grandest failures have proved to be important turning points.

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One response to “A Thin Facade

  1. I don’t know who “friend” #1 is but he sounds like a dick. He also sounds like someone with a weak grasp of how stochastic applications for this sort of thing are: I know people who got the NSF GRFP but didn’t get accepted to a Ph.D. program ranked in the top 25 in their field.

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