Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Last night on American Idol, Stevie Wonder referred to "Chicken Little"'s voice as "interesting". This was the kiss of death. In other words, Stevie was implying that his voice was horrible and he had nothing better to say. For me, in school, the worst thing to hear was not that I was interesting, but that I was smart.

When you're smart, it often happens that it is your only attribute. No one notices anything else. You're labeled as "the smart kid". Sometimes, you get worse monikors, but we won't disucss those :-) I spent most of my childhood and adult life hiding from that term. In school, I never wanted to tell others what I made on my tests. I never announced my grades like others did. My goal was to blend in completely. In my adult life, I never bragged on my degrees or how fast I got them. At my previous workplace, the only way most people knew I had a Ph.D. was that someone else told them. I never announced it or put it in my email signature or anything else. When I see people with a Ph.D. at the end of their name, I laugh inwardly. "Why would someone want to draw that attention to themselves?" I would ask. When I taught at the college level, I had my students call me by my first name.

Deep down, this was only to avoid the "smart" label. I hated it so much from my childhood that I would have done anything to avoid being labeled with it. But my new year's resolution is acceptance. Last week, I dug my Ph.D. degree out of a box in my office and put it up in my cube. It's a first step.

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