Being Proud

Throughout our childhood, we learned through imitation, we copied from our elders and turned this into our own voice. Most of these traits were borrowed from our culture and family fields of expertise. Now, it is easy to feel ashamed that we are copying someone else. People are made to feel like don’t have agency when the act of learning can be a form of agency.

Proud people are proud of what they’ve learned. In graduate school, I am surrounded by the frontier of knowledge and oftentimes feel incompetent and unknowing. School provides me a safe environment to feel this way and encourages living in uncertainty.

Yet while in school, I am not just paying attention to what I’m learning, but also to my histories back home. I may still feel ashamed of what I’m learning, especially if it is not legitimate within my culture.

If I go back to people I use to talk to before grad school, they may give me positive reinforcement and think it is wonderful I learned what a “cost/benefit” analysis is. If I took my job offer at Deloitte afterwards, this would mean I was a grad school success.

If I say I am uncertain about my future career, they’ll think I’m crazy or have become seduced by the bubble of my school. It is easy to feel ashamed of what I’m learning.

Our challenge in school is to learn new ways of thinking but to keep asking ourselves: how can I translate this into my own language and poetry, with my own ways of analyzing the world?

I can always go back to the same business suits that I’ve worn, I know it’s comfortable, I know how it fits, people expect me to look that way. I’ll be accepted. I risk this when I try and test new ways of thinking and operating, but that is the whole point of coming to school. I’m proud of what I’ve learned.

About ericadhawan

Writer about women, leadership and movement. Currently at Harvard and MIT.
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