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Random excerpt from a journal entry in 2003 that I stumbled across just now and found interesting:

So for my birthday today, we had lunch at Todai -- free lunch makes for a good birthday tradition.  Our waiter there turned out to be someone I knew from high school, not well, but I recognized him in spite of a very different hair style, and back then he was one of those friendly Asian guys who knew my reputation.  We chatted a couple times when he came by or we crossed paths; he knew I was at "CIT", and he asked me how it was.  When I told him that it was hard, his eyes kind of widened and he asked, "It's hard there?  Even for you?"  It was almost a second before I remembered, 'Oh yeah, back in high school I was considered to be among the best students.'  I guess two terms at Tech, even on pass/fail, is enough to make you forget.  Kind of like, "You mean, there was a time when homework and classes were easy?!"  No, really, I don't even know how I compare to others at Caltech; it's not the kind of place where you bother to tier yourselves very much.  . . . .  It's what I wanted: to be studying with the best minds, to be challenged, to not be singled out as the one to be "taken down" if one wanted to be the best.  And I don't regret that one bit.  It was just kind of weird to be reminded of . . . hm, what?  Who I used to be?  I don't think I've changed that much personally.  Of what my surroundings used to be, I suppose.  I'm in a totally different environment now.

I would muse some more -- about how I'm still in a world that's much like Tech: full of very smart people but not all that competitive; about how I seem to masochistically seek out places where I will feel inadequate -- but I really should get some work done. Not least of which is writing thank you letters to a firm where I would definitely feel intimidated and outclassed by the level of talent and from which I would really like an offer. Somehow, I just can't seem to escape this pattern.

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elwen

March 2015

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