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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    This year’s lesson: I’m really not that smart

    I’ve learned a lot of things in my freshman year of college. I’ve learned to be careful crossing the bike path on the UA Mall, that living in the dorms is terrible, how quickly Panda Express can get old — no matter how good I thought it was the first time. I’ve relearned how to make friends and I’ve learned that no matter how many times someone says they never throw up from drinking, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I’m not smart.

    It took me a long time to realize this. For a while I convinced myself that AP classes and SAT scores actually meant something, but of course I was just a silly freshman.

    Now I’m not saying I’m not smart because the math department discourages me, or because I met some super genius in the library the other day. I’m not even saying it so that girls think I have a low self-esteem and try to sleep with me. I’m saying it because the first thing I learned in college is that no one is smart.

    That doesn’t mean that everyone is dumb. It means that everyone still has something that they aren’t good at or don’t know about. That is why college is so important — everyone has something to learn.

    We all have gaps in our knowledge. For example, do you know how far the Earth is from the sun? Take a guess; chances are that you’ll be off by quite a bit. These holes in knowledge are out there waiting to be filled. It’s why we are in college in the first place.

    Accepting that I wasn’t smart was challenging. All my life I was taught that I was wonderful. I made good grades, I did my homework and I really believed that I knew a great deal about the world. Boy, was I wrong.

    While I may have tried to ignore the bad grades I received by rationalizing that it was all the university’s fault, eventually I was forced to accept the truth. It was probably the most important discovery I have made. It may even be the most important discovery I will ever make in college. Knowing that I wasn’t smart enabled me to see education in an entirely different light.

    Suddenly, not only could I learn from teachers but I could also learn from everyone around me. Kids who I pegged as morons the first time around were able to provide me with insights that I had not fathomed.

    While I don’t expect everyone to classify himself or herself as not smart (I mean, if they did, the word would become meaningless), the lessons I learned when I began questioning my own knowledge will linger for years.

    There are people out there who are smarter than me and some who are dumber, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from everyone. Once you stop thinking you are smart, the world becomes a much more educational place. Plus, when I feel down on myself, I just remember that I’m intelligent.

    By the way, the Earth is 92,955,887.6 miles from the sun. There. I just saved you the trouble of Googling it.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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