12/29/2004 03:17:00 PM   [ link ]

part I: condescension.

Mike calls it the "WashU Syndrome". I explained to him that everyone at WashU grew up being told that they were extraordinarily smart. They were the high school overachievers, the valedictorians, the high scorers on SATs and ACTs. They are accustomed to having everyone around them expect that they will know the answers to things.

So what happens when you throw such a person in with a thousand others with the same credentials? A lot of people have trouble dealing with it. It's easy to feel insecure when you no longer stand out. It's easy to forget that the people around you are smart, probably smarter than you, and if you give them a long-winded explanation of something they will become annoyed and feel like you're talking down to them. And when you're on the flip side of that situation, and someone is giving a long-winded explanation to you, it's easy to become irrationally angry and defensive about it. "This person must think I'm totally stupid!" you think. "I KNOW that already," you snap at them.

By "you" in the previous paragraph, I really mean "me". I've been aware of this phenomenon for a long time, but for the majority of that time I could only see the problem in other people and not in myself.

New Year's Resolution #1: STOP BEING LIKE THIS.