Tag Archives: Academia

Thoughts from the Makeup Chair

16 Jul

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.”

― Oscar Wilde

Artist Wayne Thiebaud’s work Cupcakes and Donuts

One of the difficult paradoxes of being educated is the realization of how little you actually know. On the first day of my second year of college, a professor of mine divulged an interesting study conducted at UC Berkeley. They monitored the self-esteem of a group of admitted freshman throughout their collegiate career. Upon admittance, the students all displayed exceptionally high confidence, pride, and self-regard. However, during sophomore and junior years students nearly universally displayed an increase in insecurity and the measureable data indicating self-esteem dramatically slumped only to return upon graduation.

I can personally attest to this slump in confidence. Perhaps it’s the onset of a quarter-life-crisis or maybe it’s the uncomfortable widening of self-awareness, the knowledge that the world is just a wee larger than my little Jessica biome. It’s a little scary. What is it about knowledge and exploration that elicits such a frightening effect?

On Saturday, one of my co-workers called me saying that she had had a 12-hr nose bleed and had to go to the E.R. When our manager arrived to relieve her, a very irritated man greeted her at the door, wishing to procure a refund for a liter of body wash and shampoo that failed to meet his expectations. It came to pass that the man had purchased his products in an area with differing sales tax to our own, shorting his refund by $1.38. Infuriated, he hurled insults at our manager while all the while my co-worker stood next to him, soaked bloody towels pressed to her face, waiting to be taken to the hospital.

This seems to me, anecdotal evidence that supports UC Berkeley’s study. This man’s ignorance has clearly reduced his awareness to only himself, arming him with a surreal quality of angry self-confidence and inflated self-worth that enabled him to prioritize his $1.38 refund over a clear emergency happening three feet away.

I heard once, the more time you spend by yourself, the crazier you become. I think that’s because you lose perspective. Much like the hoarders that we all quickly click past on TV, people become buried in their own garbage. But for some, perhaps its mental garbage. Thoughts or ideas that without the ability to be placed in the context of global reality become personal truths, however far off they may be.

Maybe, we can all learn a lesson on perspective from the angry-tax-man who spent a little too much time home alone…

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