Every day, you realize just how much you don’t know. How many books you’ve never read, how
many subjects you haven’t studied, how many facts—great and trivial alike—you simply do not know.
It feels like you’ll never catch up. You could read til your eyes fall out and ask questions
until your lips bleed, and there will still be so, so much of the world that escapes your grasp.
It doesn’t help that you’re forgetful, either. You have to write down everything: you could
go to the supermarket for just one item, and if you don’t have it noted down on a slip of paper,
you’ll wander aimlessly up and down the aisles until finally, an hour later, you remember milk, you
If you can’t even remember a carton of milk, what hope do you have to memorize
anything else? The table of elements escapes you. You try to recite poetry and end up stumbling
through it, murmuring fragments.
One of your college professors, Mr. Aldwin, lets you know how stupid he thinks you
are every chance he gets, and even your kinder teachers say gentle, horrible things like “Just try
harder next time, Lizzie,” or “Well, I’m sure you have other talents.” Your classmates all make
blonde jokes; sometimes you think about dying your hair a flat, dark, muted shade of brown, just
to make them stop.
You are, you think, the worst kind of stupid.
Just smart enough to know what you want. Just dumb enough to never, ever attain it.
Every night you fall asleep with your bedroom lights on, books scattered across your pink
coverlet, open educational websites draining your laptop battery on the nightstand nearby.
And every morning, you wake up and you realize just how much you still don’t know.