So the first week of class is over, and the issue most prominently on my mind right now is one of personal propriety. Namely, how to be confident in class (or work) without being that girl.
Some background knowledge. You could probably guess that I’m a bit of a know-it-all. I think it’s almost a bit necessary as I’ve deluded myself into thinking strangers have any interest at all in reading the silliness I write here. That being said, I often walk into new classrooms expecting to have some level of background knowledge that will enhance my understanding of the forthcoming content. On top of that, I absolutely hate the first week of class when everyone is afraid to even say their names or betray any semblance of a personality — forget answering professors’ questions.
But since it’s the first week of school, I had to endure four classes’ worth of awkward silences and posed questions met with coy smiles and sidelong glances. It was maddening. In situations like those though, it can be even more intimidating to raise your hand and contribute. No one likes (or wants to be) the Hermione Granger of the class, who predictably volunteers questions and answers throughout all class periods. But should you keep your mouth shut out of fear of judgement, even when you know the answer? No! Worse than being ignorant is pretending to be so because you want to fit in! Don’t be silly.
I think the key distinction between a smart girl and a snotty one is a small one.
It’s all about your attitude. Believe it or not, people can sense your attitude. It’s like a cloud surrounding the five feet of space around your body — and people can smell it on you. So if you go into class acting like you should be teaching it, I can guarantee no one will want to be around when it comes time to pair up for projects or peer editing.
At the same time, I don’t want you to finish reading this post thinking the goal is to be demure and unassuming in the classroom. It’s a tricky line to tread, but if you know an answer or if you have an idea, don’t hold back. It might make your professional life a bit more complicated if you can’t master pairing humility with knowledge, but ultimately I think the world could do worse than have a few more Hermione Grangers out there.