During two years of graduate school I constantly had the feeling that I was not as knowledgeable as my peers. I wondered how they all knew so many random facts and I would spend hours preparing for a casual study group meeting just so I didn’t flub any obvious historical facts (I remember spending one day educating myself on the Korean War because it was mentioned in one of the readings we were reviewing that night). I am still trying to figure out at what point in my schooling I missed this knowledge. Was I taking the wrong classes? Should I have a gone to boarding school as I contemplated my junior year? Maybe two years spent doing busy work as a paralegal didn’t help either?
Now that I am no longer in the little bubble of graduate school and talk to people with other careers I realize I have a lot more knowledge about world affairs than I tend to think. I wonder now how people once they leave formal schooling continue to get smarter. My best guess is that if they spend their free time reading non-fiction books, studies, and articles, instead of counting down the days until the new Bridget Jones Diary book comes out.
I am trying to make baby steps to combine routines that will make me continue to learn with my routines that give me pure brainless pleasure. I told Shaun I needed to start listening to NPR everyday because, “that is what smart people do,” even saying that I can’t wait to use the phrase, “I heard x on NPR this morning.” We started recording 60 minutes because apparently these alleged smart people watch this show. I have been diligent about reading The New York Times everyday and have even stepped it up to make sure I read my entire Atlantic subscription and the occasional New Yorker purchase (usually bought at CVS to make me feel better about buying candy or make-up).
The truth is even if I may judge myself too harshly for not being knowledgeable enough it is now my responsibility to educate myself. It is certainly a challenge to be in charge of my own continuing education instead of relying on professors, peers, or a motivation because of fear of embarrassment. If I do really want to be a life-long learned and continue to get smarter I need to make myself my new favorite professor.