I try to be intelligent. Intelligence does not ensue.

I attended a scientific lecture today.  As is the case with most talks of this sort, the speaker spouted jargon, exclaimed over bar graphs, and praised the work of her grad students for quite some time.  My summer job is partially based on the assumption that I understand the content of the lectures, so I sat stiffly in my seat, clutching my coffee cup for support as I strained my eyes to see the cramped diagrams she was explaining.  Surprisingly, as the talk wore on, I found myself—not necessarily enjoying it, but being awed nonetheless by the intelligence behind some of the reasoning and experiments.   There was one particular complex concept she mentioned that caught my eye.  She zoomed through the explanation, leaving confused mutterings and furrowed brows in her wake.  Fully hyped up on caffeine, I actually understood the concept on the first pass.  Naturally, I congratulated myself on comprehending this technique that had evaded my intellectual superiors.  In fact, I was so proud, I had to suppress a grin as I looked around at the befuddled expressions surrounding me.  I continued to feel good about myself long after the moment had passed.  “Wow, I can’t believe it.  I get it!” was playing in a loop in my head.  I CAN’T BELIEVE IT.  This was broken up with “Look how smart I’m getting!  Wow.”  And so it went, with so much bragging that had it been expressed aloud, I could’ve made anyone sick.  I was so wrapped up in self-validation, that I missed the next ten minutes of the talk.  I unsuccessfully struggled to grab purchase in the jungle of unfamiliar concepts to which she had moved on.  Needless to say, my ego deflated faster than a molecule binds to a receptor.  After the talk, when my boss asked me for my thoughts, I heavily emphasized the confusing technique.  He was not impressed.

I think I may be in need of some lessons in humility…


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