Pinky and the Brain

Have you ever had a professor so brilliant, so inspired, so passionately dedicated to his students that he completely scared the Holy Hell out of you?

If so, then welcome to my world.

Dr. Gade is a well-known professor in the school of Journalism and Mass Communications (a.k.a. my home-away-from-home).  He’s one of those academic types who have the most ridiculous resumes imaginable to mankind- he’s been everywhere, seen everything, accomplished so much that it seems almost unfair…and now he’s teaching me.  Little ol’ me, who doesn’t have the slightest clue what she’s going to do for her career and who can’t do math to save her life (did I mention this is a statistics-based research course?).   I feel like Joe Jonas trying to learn from Sir Paul McCartney; the pairing of Dr. Gade and myself is momentously disproportionate.

And I was prepared for this overwhelming sense of ineptitude coming into the semester, as my friends who’ve had him in classes past warned me about how ginormously terrifying he is.  So I went into Research Methods expecting the worst…wailing and gnashing of teeth, failing grades on my best work, and comments like, “you are a worthless vagabond who doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as me, let alone benefit from my vast expertise!”

But what I wasn’t prepared for was niceness…compassion…dedication… and a sincere interest in my success.  That caught me completely off guard.  Dr. Gade is not a monster as I was led to believe.  He’s something even worse; he’s a friendly genius.

So now instead of being able to hate him and discount his criticisms as the senseless rantings of an academician past his prime, I’m faced with emotions I haven’t experienced since my brilliant seventh grade science teacher…I find myself second-guessing everything I say in his presence, I sputter nonsense when he calls on me in class, and I can’t seem to form a single worthwhile thought for any of his assignments.  The meaning of all this is quite undeniable:  I want Dr. Gade to like me.

And even more than that, I want him to think I’m smart.

This is a problem I’ve dealt with all my life.  I have an irrational and overwhelming desire to please people I respect, and I blame it entirely on my elder and arguably smarter sister, Rachel.

From day one, Rachel was a god to me.  She was older than me by 22 months, she was quite a bit louder (as I assumed the role of Silent Baby-Child), and she was a grown-up the day she was born…conquering math, ethics, and verbal communication at a surprisingly early age.
And so, all I ever wanted was for Rachel to like me…and in true older sibling form, all Rachel ever wanted was for me to leave her alone.

Those childhood battles of earning Rachel’s approval haunt me still, as to this day I can’t tell you whether she actually likes me or not.  And now that she’s moved far far away to the land of Virginians and PhDs, I have to find other people by whom to define my self-worth.

Cue Dr. Gade.

I know this will inevitably turn out badly for me, as my desire to please is directly correlated with my greatest moments of stupidity.  It’s like when somebody watches you type; all of a sudden your fingers revolt and you can’t remember which keys are where or what language you speak or how to spell your own name.  The more I want to impress Dr. Gade with my smarts the dumber I’ll sound…and no amount of “be cool, betch, be cool” self-talk will stop my stuttering.

So I guess Dr. Gade is destined to think me a nimrod, and I’m destined to care about that far too much.  Maybe he’ll see my efforts and like me for trying, but somehow I doubt he’s the type to appreciate failed attempts.  He’s too much of a rocket-scientist-genius-man to understand failure.

Once this semester comes to a close, I’ll return to a world where I think I’m relatively intelligent and worthwhile.  But until then I’ll be scrambling to impress a professor who barely knows I exist…and I’ll be stressing out about his assignments more than he will ever know.  Yes, I am aware of my masochistic tendencies.  I’m looking into shock-therapy.

But regardless of whether Dr. Gade ever realizes my true worth, at least I’ll be able to say my heart was fully into it…as well as my sweaty palms, ulceric stomach and pounding head.

Hey, being a self-doubting people-pleaser is a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Much love.

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No Comments on "Pinky and the Brain"

  1. Fauna
    26/10/2009 at 3:37 pm Permalink

    I felt the same way. Dr. Gade is a genius. He terrified me and I therefore terrified you and gave you ominous forewarnings about his class. I am sorry about those stomach ulcers that I caused prior to you beginning class. I was only trying to prepare you. I too admire Dr. Gade and his infinite wisdom. He is the only professor at OU that has yet to challenge me and one of the few professors whom I truly care about impressing (not too sure if I was successful or not). I assure you that you are intelligent and that Dr. Gade is also fully aware of this fact. You will succeed beautifully as you always do.

    Oh and what is up with that typing thing. When someone stands over my shoulders and watches me type it is as if I am suddenly illiterate, numb, and lacking three fingers.

  2. Clare
    26/10/2009 at 4:28 pm Permalink

    ha! yep, he’s intimidating, but isn’t he so fuuuun to listen to? no one would ever dare (or want) to facebook during HIS class.

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