Over-participation (rant, sorry)

McMullin, Elise emcmullin at kl.com
Tue Jan 18 18:04:22 EST 2000

	Irina wrote:
	"That might be the answer (she's a veritable model of kindness and
> understanding herself, yecch), but it would probably use up all of my
> energy that I desperately need to get some learning done."
	Weeell, something slightly fishy about it - drawing unfavorable
attention and embarrassment to perfectly blameless behavior is not walking
the walk of kindness and understanding.  Everyone has their quirks and ways,
places they are coming from and issues they struggle with - this might be
your classmate's.

> > I know exactly what you mean and I say -- Dare!  Think of yourself
> > - swashbuckling across the endless sea of Thought, swinging from
> > the mizzenmast of intellect, brandishing your rapier wit, boldly
> > asking questions no one has dared ask before! 
	"And make enemies left and right? No, thanks."

	Aww, no one needs to get hurt!  They sound like a tough crowd though
- maybe discretion *is* the better part of valor.  Or is it valour?  These
variations can get confusing.

	"That said, I'm trying to teach my gifted eldest daughter to speak
> and be what she is without putting on the drab cloak - hope that she
> doesn't get into the habit the way I did as a child, so she'll be
> able to swashbuckle across the endless sea of Thought without taking
> notice of people's disdainful stares."
	Oh, today's batch of emails is making me chuckle nostalgically.
When I got to college and realized that I would be in debt for years for the
education, over the first year I had a revolution in attitude from blending
to definitely not blending.  I felt it was up to me to exploit the resources
to the fullest.  That it wasn't something to worry about, whether it turned
out well or ill, because it was my undertaking and I was the one signing my
name to all those loans.  So I started taking the seats in the front row and
fixing the nervous profs in my gimlet gaze (well, not really, but I've
always wanted to use gimlet in a sentence) and Really Being Serious.  It was
a lot of fun though I'm sure I overdid it (not participation, but the
worrying part of trying to push myself to full potential).  Not one
interviewer has ever cared about that honors thesis.

	In one class there was this girl, with an attitude more typical of
high school, who made fun of me for participating and sitting in the front.
Anyway, she used to like to sit behind me on the riser above, and thwap me
in the head with her beaded scarf, by mistake on purpose.  Unlike in earlier
years where this would have really, really upset me - somehow I found it
incredibly funny.  I think because I realized I was free.  Then later I
learned that she picked a victim in each of her classes (I got to talking
with another victim) and that was even more funny, although sad for her.
It's the worse for her to go through life being harsh to people like that.

	"Well, in my black moods I think I *am* hurting them - I'm stealing
> their thunder (not that they have any, but I'm taking away any
> opportunity they might want) and taking away their spotlight time."

	"I was brought up to take up as little room as possible, and I'm
> now beginning to learn that I don't have to take myself away if
> there's but one person who could possibly object to my presence."
	Hmm me too to an extent - well, I was exposed to some very servile,
martyrish ideas - hard to kick too.  I think of it as the "daughters are
servants you don't have to pay" school of thought - nothing but a hoary
cultural artifact cluttering up the thinking spaces of some. Whenever I
notice myself going small (unless it is on purpose), I will then go about
taking up as much space as I possibly can.  I think this is probably why
some older ladies wield those stiff, sharp edged purses (yow!).

> (I've been known not to board a bus because it was full - not because
> I thought there would be no room for me, but because I thought
> everybody else had more right than me to be on that bus purely by
> virtue of being other people).
	I definitely prescribe a course of elbows-out, sharp purse carrying
(you don't have to use it, but the power is heady).  Think of Sophie!  Think
of Sophie!

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