Thursday, 1 December 2011

how to act when surrounded by people who are way smarter than you

Today, I attended my first ever math training. It was terrible. There was only one other junior in the training session and the others were all seniors. Seniors terrify me. And I was able to answer a humiliating grand total of... 3 problems! Yay! (Sarcasm hand.)

I learned a lot today. A little on life, a little on jaywalking, and a little on social awkwardness. And I will share with you my new found wisdom on the last one just in case you find yourself in a situation similar to mine. (This is for awkward potatoes like me. But if you are a social butterfly, get the fudge out. Just kidding. I love you.)

I got home with my shame face held at a constant 45 degrees and after a few moments of pondering upon my recent humiliation, I was able to pinpoint exactly what I did wrong. And I've come up with possible solutions for next time! Here are the four most essential things I forgot and I hope you do too. Jk.

1. Notebook. This is just common sense, but my common sense wasn't being common enough at the time so I went ahead and put it on the list anyway. The notebook, I mean. Not the common sense. Although it should be here.

2. Common sense. Common sense. I couldn't emphasize it enough.

3. Pen. This usually goes with number one. Although if you want it stuck up your nose or strewn through your eye sockets, that's fine too. Just make sure you have a pen.

4. Glasses. This is part of the reason I was only able to answer three problems. Those three problems were all I was able to read.

Remembering to bring the above items is NOT the only thing you need to survive training. You need laser vision, 200-lb muscles, Einstein's brain, mind-reading capabilities, and telekinesis. Well, not really. Although they can be useful. But since we do not possess said powers, we should probably just stick to surviving the session with minimal embarrassment.

Doodle. The sessions do not always start on time. So instead of awkwardly looking around and listening in on the seniors' inside jokes and R-rated conversations, distract yourself from the fact that you are a loner in this certain group of awesome nerds. Doodle, draw, or pretend to write an awesome poem. Anything goes. But for the love of all that is good, DO NOT JUST STARE AT THEM.

Whisper. Avoid movement. Speak in a volume no higher than a decibel. As much as possible, do not attract seniors' attention. Do not even move if you are within reach. Seniors operate like t-rex. They viciously shred anything that moves.

Now is not the time to try to brag about your math prowess. Do NOT beat them to the answer. Do NOT solve out loud. Do NOT try to participate in the discussion.

Master your yes-I-understand-everything-perfectly face. Seniors' lessons are different and more complex than yours. So when they're discussing the solution to a kind of problem that you've never encountered--the kind that your 15-year-old mind can never comprehend--just nod along like you know exactly what they're talking about even though your mind is thinking "what the fuck is happening?"

Do not be shocked by anything. Yes, I know you can't really stop yourself from being surprised. But you need to. Learn to keep a straight face. Even when everyone already has an answer after just 3 seconds and you're still struggling to decipher the blur of numbers and symbols on the screen 5 feet away from you. Even when the coach tells you you're going to participate in the competition that takes place in two days. Control your shock and eliminate any trace of fear that your face might be showing.

Do not ask for a pen. You are better off pen-less.

Disclaimer: The seniors may or may not be as vicious as I've described them. My terrifying descriptions of said seniors may or may not be because of my senioraphobia or fear of seniors and people.

Lesson for the day: Jaywalking is illegal and dangerous.


  1. Great post.

    My mind is always thinking "what the fuck is happening" because I'm easily distracted by shiny things, so am usually not paying enough attention :)

  2. Me too! But I do try my best to stay focused. But we all know trying could only take us so far.