A middle-aged man sitting at a desk writing a paper

I’m Not As Smart As I Thought

I’m almost 44. I have two college degrees (Accounting and an MBA), and I’ve read hundreds of books. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on things.

Then, I went back to college for a degree in philosophy with a minor in English.

I’m three weeks in and just submitted my first paper, an analysis of a short story by Flannery O’Connor titled A Good Man is Hard to Find. I recommend reading this one—it’s a classic Southern Gothic mind-bender. When I submitted the paper, I felt great about my work.

I got a C. Oof.

Luckily, I get to resubmit the work for a better grade. When I read the teacher’s feedback, I was angry and embarrassed. How could she not see my brilliance? It put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day and soured my “college aspirations.”

The following morning, I asked myself: “Why am I doing this? Why did I go back to college?” I knew the answer. It was to become a better writer. I reviewed the teacher’s feedback again, and you know what? Her comments, if followed, would make the piece much better.

I set my ego aside and followed my teacher’s advice. The paper’s second draft is finished (awaiting a grade). Regardless of what I get, I know one thing: she brought me closer to my goal. I’ll write many papers over the next five to six years (that’s how long this will take), and I hope to improve with each one.

It’s been fourteen years since I wrote a paper in school. What I’ve discovered is that formalizing a clear argument on paper is hard, but it’s a skill I want to develop. Learning to write well is a direct path to thinking clearly, which is something I could use in this crazy world.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.


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One thought on “I’m Not As Smart As I Thought

  1. It is humbling at first, when we realize we may not have this “all in the bag”, but I appreciate the suggestion to revisit our why? I will put this on my action list. Thank you.

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