Friday, April 15, 2011

Sometimes We Make Sausage, Other Times... Progress

Poe Hall From the Court of the Carolinas
If you happened to friend me on Facebook, you probably already learned that I had a meeting on Monday with a Doctor about PSY 499 work. The good Doctor is a young man, perhaps younger than myself, with a very quiet demeanor. His German accent only adds to his charm, and I described him to a couple of people as "adorable". In fact, even though we have had very little contact with one another thus far, I'd be willing to say I have a little bit of a crush on him. This is hardly a new phenomenon for me, as I have had exactly four crushes on men in my life. Of course the good Doctor is married, and his wife is quite attractive in her own right, if the photo on his desk is an accurate depiction. To be honest, I'm not sure where I was going with that!

At any rate, we only spoke for about fifteen minutes, but it was enough time for me to feel like an idiot, albeit a well-spoken idiot. The Doctor is very intelligent, as are most Europeans when compared with us lowly Americans. He attended the prestigious Max Planck Institute and is currently studying emotion and cognition in adults and the elderly. He asked me simple questions for which I felt like I had no good answer, though I flapped my lips and came up with something to fill the silence. Honestly, how do I get caught up on a question like, "What are your goals for the future?" or "What sorts of things would you like to research?" After giving it some thought, I think it has something to do with motivation.

Years ago, in therapy, it became apparent that one of my greatest weaknesses is that I have a strong sense of entitlement. I am, by most accounts, an intelligent person who hasn't come close to living up to his full potential. Where others might see that as a motivation to work harder, I see it as a failing of society not to reward me for my obvious superiority. And, yes, I am totally aware that this makes me seem like a total ass! But, I don't just believe that I should be rewarded. I think society should reward ALOT of people for their untapped brilliance. And, I'm not ashamed to say that this is partially what informs my Socialism. The world has dealt alot of people a shitty hand. And, as a result, alot of very valuable people have gone to waste in our society because they had to work harder simply to be on an even footing with people who weren't as brilliant as they were. Matters of poor parenting and economics, issues which a child has absolutely no control over, shouldn't be what stands between the Ph.D.'s and the plebeians.

Having admitted that, I do have a tendency to just show up to life and expect it to take me somewhere. I have this very vague, almost gauzy, vision of being a professor and what that entails and what I need to do to get there; but the specifics just haven't been thought out fully. And, I acknowledge that is probably not a good thing. I regularly hear students chatting away about how they are studying this, researching that, how they did on the GRE, what schools they are applying to, etc. My response is always, "Hmm, people do that? Seriously?" I've just naturally gone about my life expecting A to lead to B and B to lead to C, ad infinitum. As a result, my life has often seemed like a messy endeavor in sausage making. You really don't want to see what goes into it, but hopefully you'll like the result.

The Doctor agreed to let me join his lab, and I may start as early as this summer. And, while I'm not counting on it, there is the possibility that I may get paid over the summer before getting course credit in the fall. I'm really hoping that I'll learn more by working in his lab than simply the minutiae of how the elderly think and feel. I'm hoping that the Doctor will teach me how to get from C to D, and from D to Ph.D. One might even consider that progress.

Have fun, and keep living life... Or Some Approximation Thereof.

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