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Veronica Mars, Like Just About Everyone, Is Smarter Than Me - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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July 19th, 2006


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10:06 pm - Veronica Mars, Like Just About Everyone, Is Smarter Than Me
Yesterday, I was explaining to a co-worker how I ended up in my current position. I reached the part where I walk into my academic advisor's office and tell her that I want to leave the doctoral program, the part I described as "one of those hardest things you ever do in life." And as I told her, I felt the tears beginning to well up as my body was consumed with whatever mix of emotions was stirring in me at the time. I held it together, however, and I don't think she noticed.

It surprised me because I thought I was over it.

I make jokes all the time. I was a straight-A student in high school, winning gobs of awards in academic competitions, featured in the newspaper multiple times. So I proudly report my three C+'s in a row at Rice, a hilarious sign of my declining academic prowess. I laugh at the fact that I was actually on academic probation for one semester of grad school. Before I dropped out. Before I said, I can't handle this. I'm not good enough. I am going to take a Master's and run. I give up.

And I'm supposed to be a role model? My academic record looks like Veronica Mars's ratings in season two.

Sometimes, it's hard not to feel like a failure.
Current Mood: sademo
Current Music: Two - My Ceiling's Low

(94 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:prime_meridian
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:12 am (UTC)
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::hugs you hard even though you don't know me::

You're wonderful. We're each on our own journey in this crazy life, and the really important things aren't tallied in degrees, or listings in Who's Who, or on the bottom line of a bank statement. Friends, cool experiences, laughter....that's what it's about, and you're doing fine. ;)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the hugs. I would also like a chicken quesadilla.
(Deleted comment)
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From:soundingsea
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:14 am (UTC)
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Success is not measured in absolutes, man. Grades are nothing in the real world. Put enough distance between yourself and academia, and you won't care.

What matters is you: all that you are, all that you bring and give and offer. If you set goals for yourself (PhD, for example) and then life experience makes you change that to a Masters, as long as you are happy with the result, that's all that matters.

On a typical day, I interact with a lot of crazed PhD candidates who are clearly hanging onto sanity by a thread. Honestly, it's not for everyone (nor would any sane person want it to be - it means devoting every iota of your energy to school, as far as I can tell. Bleargh. More to life!)

It's late, and I'm rambling, but I just want to say that you're articulate and bright and far from any sort of "failure". :P
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:16 am (UTC)
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That icon is perfect. Heeeee. Thanks.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
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Who called you a role model? You're a person. We're all just people.

On the other hand, the fact that you have actually secured employment in your own damn field, and that you had all that awesome feedback on your science-blog and all those compliments on your writing does rather make you an example of how one needn't lose hope simply because one's grades ain't so spectacular. You, sir, are in process. As are we all.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC)
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I'm a role model for my siblings and younger cousins.
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From:ivyisgilgamesh
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:24 am (UTC)
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I know what you mean. I feel like a failure all the time. But think about it this way I'm an actual failure. Like I failed. You just chose something that worked better for you. That doesn't mean you fail. If you had wanted to complete the academia thing you would have. I've said it before and I'll say it again you are in the top ten awesomest people I know. And I know a whole lot of people.

*hugs*
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC)
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I still think you should know more people, but I really appreciate that. It's definitely one of my favorite compliments ever. *hugs*
[User Picture]
From:ohimesamamama
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC)
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What they said up above, plus a very important thing: grades are measurements that show nothing about the circumstances about how you got them. They do not tell us anything about natural talents and facilities, preferential treatment, rapport, or just having a good year or semester or hour of the day; they don't tell us about the death you had in your family when you got that grade, or how much it wasn't actually your interest but you didn't know at the time, or how the teacher hated you. It's just a measurement of one period of learning and how well you met guidelines for learning it at that time. Moreover, that's just measurements for stuff you learned with someone applying formal judgments to it; you don't get grades for all you might be learning in unofficial venues. It says something about how you achieved in that context, not in all of life.

There are benchmarks for failure or success in life, but rarely are they about grades. You're the kind of guy who makes sure an actress in a show you adore gets a pillow when she's running herself dead exhausted to entertain you, dude. That's infinitely cooler than whether or not you got a C or an A in a particular class.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
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The grades are fun to focus on, but the key issue here is that I, who was the golden boy who'd make his momma proud, couldn't even make it through a measly doctoral program.
[User Picture]
From:truemyth
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)
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I know how you feel.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:26 am (UTC)
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*hugs*
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From:incidentist
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)
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I've never considered you a failure. You took a Master's and ran...into a pretty decent combination of your interests.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
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Yet, your icon seems to intimate that I should overdose on some pills. THANKS A LOT, DAN.
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From:electricmonk
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:55 am (UTC)
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Good grades don't make good role models. Good people do, and you're good people. Anyway, people who've messed some things up and changed their minds a few times tend to inspire me more than people who ace everything and go exactly where they always intended. I mostly just resent the latter.
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From:upanashad
Date:July 20th, 2006 05:58 am (UTC)
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I'm a HUGE failure, so I promise you, from the vantage point of total failure and total disapointment to everyone that knows you, you're ratings are still really really good. Don't be hard on yourself, you stand out with your wit and charm. You could never fail. Plus, you're going to be a famous author someday, and if you had gotten your doctorate or whatever it might have distracted you, and then the world would have missed out on what I know is going to be great.
[User Picture]
From:upanashad
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)
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Oh no, I did the dreaded your/you're mistake right in your LJ. The shame!
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From:sterope
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
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My grades totally peaked in high school. Once I got to college, they declined and declined and I finally pulled straight As in my last semester. You can still be a cool person without having a stellar GPA, says I.
From:hobviously
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
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You wrote a thesis. Shut up.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:15 am (UTC)
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No, you shut up.
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From:ironsgold
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:19 am (UTC)
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Did you ever think that maybe you just weren't ready? If it is that important to you (Which I can understand, I think you feel the same way I do about education), I would think about going back in a year or so. I honestly think it is the best way to start grad school, after a taking some time off to regroup and focus. Many of my students who have spent their entire lives in academics are unprepared for the real world and are completely freaked when they start living in it. I see you as someone who can just about handle anything, but who sells himself short way too often. I truly believe that you are more than capable of completing grad school, and as for being a role model, it would certainly be an example of fortitude.

And NONE of my grad students have a sense of humor. Now THAT"S failure!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:23 am (UTC)
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I think not taking time off did probably contribute to getting burnt out, but I don't know how "important," per se, it is to me anymore. I don't feel like wasting six years of my life when I've started on a pretty good career track already. Until I get tired of this and run off to Hollywood to become a penniless sitar player writer.
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From:punzerel
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:22 am (UTC)
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Dude, you got a Masters and a job in your field. That's awesome! Also, you are universally acknowledged (except by anonymous losers, maybe) as Totally Great. You most certainly are not a failure.

(Also, blee. I hate that feeling, where you're telling someone about something that you ALREADY CRIED OVER, and you shouldn't be crying AGAIN, or feeling shaky and upset, but you totally are and it makes you feel like a loser and like everything is just crap. Blech. It's so frustrating when you just..can't stop being upset and unhappy, even though you shouldn't be anymore. *lots of hugs*, because that feeling really sucks. In that situation, I usually need lots of hugs and a good new recipe to try baking..gives me something to focus on. The last time that happened I baked about eight thousand snickerdoodles. Want one?)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:24 am (UTC)
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Oh, you nailed that feeling. It was like WHAT THE HELL?

Come over and give me a snickerdoodle and a hug.
[User Picture]
From:aprilbegins
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:23 am (UTC)
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Ooh, school confession time! I failed AP English the last quarter (last two quarters?) of senior year in high school and didn't walk at graduation. I made up the English credit during a laughably easy summer school class at Venice High School, which was the first time I lived in LA here at my friend Loren's home.

So we're sort of reversed stories, you and I. And that's okay. We're both awesome!
[User Picture]
From:aprilbegins
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:30 am (UTC)
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P.S. Are kibbles and angst the neighbors of gonads and strife?
[User Picture]
From:melodinous
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC)
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I hate that feeling! Which, by the way, came last when some woman I barely know essentially told me I was a loser and my life wasn't worth living. Ok, I added that last part, but seriously she attacked me and my life choices after meeting me for maybe 5 minutes. I was totally cool in front of her, and broke down as soon as I left the room prompting my brother to not so casually escort me out of the building.

And as far as being a role model, being the youngest in my family I don't really have to be a model to anyone, but I was constantly reminded that I was the last hope my parents had for a successful child, and they've been disappointed in me for a long time now. They're still hoping I'll become rich and famous somehow and be able to support them in their old age. I still have a few years before my nieces and nephews recognize that I'm not doing anything fantastic with my life.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC)
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That lady needs a couponette for a punch to the face.
[User Picture]
From:glasseseater
Date:July 20th, 2006 07:04 am (UTC)
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I kind of did the same thing except I peaked way earlier than you did. also you're way cooler. so really, not the same thing at all.

*hugs*
[User Picture]
From:carminaburana
Date:July 20th, 2006 07:17 am (UTC)
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Dude, the only thing worse than getting the PhD is putting up with the academic job. PhD's are a useless waste of time if you don't want to go into academia (which is like extended grad school with better pay and more ruthless bosses.) I say take the master's and run (though i stuck it out in grad school and got into academia, so i'm clearly not sane enough to be giving you advice.) In any case, you'll be making a lot more money than the people who decided to continue with the PhD, so yay you!
[User Picture]
From:bello_sogno
Date:July 20th, 2006 08:13 am (UTC)
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Aw, I know how you feel. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and the one all my cousins hated because their parents would be like, "Why can't you do well in school like her?" And then I got to college and failed spectacularly. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I graduated, but I was a pretty mediocre student and had basically no chance of getting into graduate school. So yeah, I didn't turn out to be much of a role model either. But hey, at least you got your Master's degree, and it seems like you have a job in a field that you're interested in, so that's something to be proud of.

Also, now I work for a grad school program, and a lot of the students, especially the ones who are my age and went straight from college into grad school, are kind of insane. The ones who seem the most stable are those who took time off, lived a little, and then decided they wanted to pursue their education. So maybe one day, you'll go back and get your doctorate. But, really, not getting a doctorate doesn't make you a failure.
[User Picture]
From:ashfae
Date:July 20th, 2006 10:36 am (UTC)
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Pithy truth: you can't call yourself a failure until you die. Until then, there's time to fix/change things.

But also, it's not that simple. I know the feeling--I went through something damned similar (though I was never suave enough to be in the newspaper for being clever)--but it's not as simple as not being good enough.

Go easy on yourself, Polter-guy. *hugs* You do good.
[User Picture]
From:kibarika
Date:July 20th, 2006 11:40 am (UTC)
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You would be a failure if you'd been kicked out. You saw that something wasn't working for you and decided to end it. That's not failure. That's responsible decision-making.

If you'd like to feel better, people are always telling me my Masters isn't a real Masters because it was only one year and instead of a thesis I did student teaching and made a portfolio (thus many fewer pages of writing - like 80 or so). (When I was getting my Masters Will had just finished his and when he was all "But I had to write a thesis," and I said, "You would've rather spent 14 weeks teaching high schoolers?" and he was like "Oooh. No.") My paycheck says it is real enough. Or it will, when I have one.
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From:kibarika
Date:July 20th, 2006 11:40 am (UTC)
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P. S. And even if you'd been kicked out you'd only have been a failure at the doctoral program, not at life.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:tamarai
Date:July 20th, 2006 12:28 pm (UTC)
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One thing I've learned on this crazy ride (which, you'll recall, I've been on a lot longer than you) is that you must detach yourself from others' expectations. Instead, create your own expectations, some of which you will also fail to meet (if you're anything like me), which will be OK. It builds character. Or at least makes for some good stories.

Some of the expectations you will meet, only to realize they didn't really mean that much to you after all. And some of them you'll meet, exceed, blow sky high, and you'll have a few of the best days of your life. And then it will be behind you and you'll do it all over again.

In the meantime, you rock, and always will. Many others have already expressed that sentiment far more eloquently, but there it is.
[User Picture]
From:jeeperstseepers
Date:July 20th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
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You didn't want to be there. You didn't love it. You didn't do as well as you could have because you didn't particularly want to.

You didn't quit. You stopped doing something you didn't enjoy. You left the doctoral program when you realized you didn't even want the career that would come along with the PhD, and now you're pursuing your dream of being a flor--I mean, science writer.

*sigh*
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
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Well, medical writer. I'm not even doing what I purportedly quit to do because I'm a big sell-out who likes money.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 20th, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
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I'm probably gonna get boo'd off the stage here, but...

I don't think having those "Well, crap. I'm a failure." moments is a bad thing. For starters, I'm sure you know that compared to a lot of people's lives yours is definitely NOT a failure. That one is a little too obvious, so your standard for what makes you a failure is your own aims and goals for your life. So when you have those moments of feeling like a complete failure, then you take the time to reassess, and figure out whether you are where you should be to proceed forward with your goals, and whether your goals are even what you want them to be.

I think it's good that you felt like a failure (for that moment, if you kept feeling that way for a long time then that is a whole other ball of wax) because it means you have a high standard for your life. That makes you the best role model anyone could be. Failing at something doesn't make you a bad role model. Otherwise we'd have *no* role models, because we all fail sometime. Giving up makes you a bad role model and not the kind of giving up where you say "Hmm, this task is beyond me, I won't do it." The kind of giving up where your life becomes a cesspool. Where you content yourself to live in your parents' basement doing nothing with your life but collecting beer bottle caps.

Don't let that feeling of failure fell you. Let it drive you for a minute or two and then let it go.

Oh, and the comparison to the whole ratings thing... Ratings don't judge how good a show actually is (hello, Firefly) it just shows how many people are paying attention. They are just a reflection of the show's current circumstances. Grades are the same thing, just a reflection of your current circumstances.

Just my two cents.
[User Picture]
From:jadelynx
Date:July 20th, 2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
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Arg. Stupid login. That was me. :D
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From:etherealclarity
Date:July 20th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)
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This is what you have to remember: the masses of people who don't even dream of making it as far as you did. Because let's face it... you're ridiculously smart compared to the average person. I don't think Veronica could get a PhD. She'd be far to preoccupied with solving mysteries to make that kind of committment. She'd more than definitely flunk out if she tried.

I know the feeling of being a failure. I felt that way for a very, very long time about the club I started at Towson. Because it failed. It died. I couldn't get anyone to join, even though I tried REALLY hard. I cried a lot about that. I felt like such a spectacular failure... I couldn't even get a lousy club up and running. I knew other schools that had done this club, and our school had plenty of clubs like it that were definite successes, but mine just flopped and I felt like such an embarassment. Then another guy takes it over and completely breathes life into it. He did it when I couldn't.

In the end though, I was glad I tried. I made a contribution, because the guy who took over said he wouldn't have tried if I hadn't laid the foundation. So my failure wasn't useless, and I made my mark. He claims he had tools that I didn't have, like facebook. Really though... he put more into it. He let his grades suffer to get it going. I wasn't willing to do that, and that's why I failed over and over again.

Then there was the time I was fired from a job. Wow, did that ever feel HORRIBLE. I felt like a failure then too.

So you move on. You decide that you have different priorities. Everyone fails spectacularly at something at least once in their life, if not more. That's just part of being human.

Anyway, the fact that you made it as far as you did speaks far more highly of you than the fact that you weren't able to finish. ♥
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 20th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC)
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Ha, Veronica trying to get a PhD. Oh, dear.

Thanks for your stories of failure. What club did you try to start?

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