You may be asking, who is this new me? For those of you new to me, you may not initially note the recycling of an old family name, a play on a classic episode of a classic (well, defunct) MTV cartoon, or why black is not just existential, but slenderizing.
Back in the day, MTV showed a highly-intelligent spin-off of -- wait for it -- Beavis and Butthead, entitled "Daria." This show was based on the smart girl who used to laugh at B&B's moronic antics. Well, that girl, Daria, moves to Lawndale with her parents and fashionista sister, Quinn. In one memorable episode
, Quinn is under threat of flunking if she doesn't get an A on her next English paper. After unsuccessfully attempting to bribe Daria to write it for her, she produces an angry manifesto on the evils of school, and gets an A. She thus is deemed a "brain," and changes her wardrobe to reflect her new, deep persona, all the while feeling incredibly uncomfortable with her new identity.
While I don't share Quinn's fashion sense or bouncy hair -- truth be told, I have more in common with Daria -- there's something to the concept of being labeled a brain, for better or for worse.
This reflects a very real trend I've noticed among my fellow graduate students: fighting against the belief that somehow you're faking it. Despite the advanced degrees and educational frippery (hoodies?), you're not a brain. Maybe, like Quinn, you wrote one "good" paper somewhere along the way and now people expect you to do great things. Quinn feels your pain. Maybe you're terrified that somehow this fraud you're perpetuating will be discovered -- typically, the nightmare goes that it will be discovered at your dissertation defense, when all of a sudden your advisor and committee point at you and say, "You don't know what you're talking about! You've wasted your time and ours on this crap and you'll never amount to anything." This is the brain's equivalent of showing up to the final exam naked. Only it's far worse. And that's from someone with body image issues!!!
Let me assure you, we've all been there. The truth is, like Quinn, we're not as stupid as we think we are. We're getting degrees for a reason. And -- unlike Quinn -- we're intellectually curious and willing (usually) to do the work. Doesn't that count for something? Hopefully, it counts for more than bouncy hair.
Labels: femaliness, history writ small, junk, mindless anxiety