On Being So Very Average

I don’t generally read the newsletters/magazines that Williams College sends me as an alumni, but the other day one arrived in my mailbox, and on its way to the recycling bin, I paged through it.

Poor choice.

The newsletter was filled with stories about current students, professors, and alumni who are all doing amazing, interesting things. Because you know, I needed a reminder about how I’m not doing anything of importance or significance with my life.

It’s not like my failure to do anything important is news to me.  Even back in high school, where at my tiny, rural public high school it wasn’t too difficult to make an impression, I was aware that while I was a big fish in that small, small pond, I really wasn’t anything special in the grand scheme of things.  I was just smart and motivated enough to get into some good colleges, but not earth-shatteringly special.

Even so, college was a shock.  My first semester kicked my ass.  And I discovered that while at a small liberal arts college it was difficult to get totally lost in the crowd, it was still pretty damn hard to truly stand out.  My professors liked me (generally–I did have an on-going feud with an African history professor, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), I was in the marching band, I made dean’s list a couple of semesters, I wrote an honors thesis.  But in the end, it was all forgettable.  I wasn’t a student who stood out for brilliance (or really for anything, for that matter)

Grad school was more of the same.  I worked full-time my first year, so it was hard to really get into things.  I did decently in my classes, my advisor liked me, and I got some good internships.  But again, nothing earth-shattering.  Nothing that made a name for me in the field.

I’ve come to realize that while part of my problem is that I’m really just not brilliant enough to stand out, I’m also really, really horrible at self-promotion.  I would love to be more involved in a museum association that is very closely related to my current job (and a regular passion of mine within the museum field), maybe even speak at their conference.  But while I’ve mentioned my interest to those I know who are already involved, nothing has come of it.  And I think that’s because I haven’t pushed.  I don’t like being pushy, and I don’t like playing myself up, because I know I’m nothing special.  There isn’t really anything that I have to bring to the table that’s so totally different from what they could get elsewhere.

I would love to be in a position where I could advocate for museums, where I could help make small museums and history museums “cool” (because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that there is WAY more money being thrown at art museums than there is at history museums, because art is “cool”), but I’m just not important enough.  I can yell and scream on this blog all I want, but in the end, no one really cares what some anonymous, unimportant 20-something blogger thinks.

Bah.  I think I’ll go for a long walk this weekend…those walks usually help me feel better about things.

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