For some time now, I’ve struggled with how to be productive in my classes. I find that I either participate too much and make others think I’m trying to earn the teacher’s approval, or I freeze out my classmates because I’m doing the bare minimum that I need for the grade. I think I’ve found a better way.
School is easier for some people than others, but that doesn’t mean you have a right to develop an ego. I know a lot of people who have natural talent at school, but take it easy because they can. To be honest, that bothers me. If you’ve been given a gift, it is important to use it.
But more often than not, people resent the people who have an easy time at school. I know a lot of academics who have made their entire identities about school and how smart they are, and I think it’s because they want to learn and not be rejected. People sometimes develop an ego as a crappy way to deal with how other’s don’t respect them. Instead of security in your own identity, people resenting your giftings can make you withdraw from others. It’s a circular cycle that can be hard for people to break out of.
I believe that if you are smart, you should set goals apart from just school. You should have a variety of different goals that also benefit others. If only to help you steward the gifts you’ve been given in a way that keeps you from just thinking about yourself, find a way to pay it forward. It is more important to be kind than it is to be intelligent. If you respect others and their opinions, and you treat people with a sense of shared dignity, people want to help you out.
There are people who are not fully convinced that what they have to offer is worth something. They constantly try to flatter professors in the hope of getting ahead, and many professors out there live to endorse their egos. I think these people also need Jesus, but it’s a lot easier to have compassion on them leaving college. If people only knew how much God loved them, they would have no need to resort to flattery, pandering to people’s egos, and petty favors, and they’d have no reason to expect that of others.
The easiest way to get people to help you is pretty simple: be the type of person that people want to help. Be steadfast. Follow through with your commitments. Help when it’s not required of you. Don’t always expect a favor in return. It’s better to be simply kind and steadfast on the day that you actually need something than to be trying to cut corners for an advantage. It means more when someone offers to help you freely than when you ask to be reimbursed.
Being respectful to your teachers isn’t the same as pandering to them. In fact, if you treat them fairly without pandering, they often think of you better than if you were trying to get in with them (even if they themselves promote that). I think people with big egos feel trapped by the ways they expect others to treat them. They crave for people to accept them without the whole shtick, but don’t feel like they’d be accepted if they stopped it. Either way, I can’t accept endorsing people’s egos in exchange for social favors. I work with children, and if I’m ever in a position for them to replicate that kind of manipulative behavior, it will be like having them consume poison. It is better for them that I model respect and allow others to help me when it’s necessary. I don’t want them growing up to always feel like they are trying to prove themselves.