I am applying for a history scholarship that would pay this year's fees if I won it. I don't have high hopes but I guess it's not a completely ridiculous idea either. Anyway, I have to collect two references from past lecturers to attach to my application. One reference - no problem. My current supervisor, who has been my lecturer for almost every class I've been in for the last couple of years, is very happy to write one. For the second, though: I had another lecturer over summer school, but that lasted only six weeks, I doubt she'd remember me, and I'm not even sure she works at my uni anymore. My current NZ history lecturer has just had a minor heart attack - so no way am I going to ask him to do anything for me.
So - I move on to my past English lecturers and eventually ask the one I think will be most likely to remember me. He does, luckily, and he's written a fantastic reference for me and sent it to me today. My supervisor will be able to write me quite a detailed one so the application is all sorted now. Great. But it got me thinking:
I really hate how we have to do this, to exist in society, to succeed, to get a job. This particular situation is hardly a big deal, but I still find it incredibly embarrassing to ask people to write down all the good things about me, and even more so to actually read them myself. What would have been worse - having to write my own letter explaining why I deserve to win. I just can't handle that! Same as job interviews. It just seems wholly wrong to explain why I'm fantastic and how I have so much to offer when actually to be honest there are probably way more people more capable than me. Which is part of the reason I've been put off applying for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade graduate positions at the end of the month - strenuous selection process and about four to five hundred applicants for about 25 jobs.
Is this wrong? Am I not ambitious or competitive enough? Actually, I know I'm competitive; it's just that the competition had better be based on my actual abilities and not just what I say about them. I am constitutionally unable to exaggerate my own qualities or even to do them justice. I feel vulgar, a fraud, if I even try, and I go all red and start stuttering. If someone even pays me a compliment, I accept it in a very offhand way as if it doesn't matter that much, even though it'll keep a secret smile on my face for the next six months, and I say something bad about myself to balance it out - because it's embarrassing to agree that there's anything good about me.
So, who has some advice for me? Or some sympathy because it's exactly the same for you?
Otherwise, uni is going great. I am still feeling thoroughly overwhelmed but now it's in an excited way. I have finally sorted out my research topic and this is it: Visitors to Stalin's Russia, and why they came away disillusioned or with illusions intact. I'm not sure if that announcement will create worldwide excitement but I am so motivated now! Classes are fun, and I'm getting on so well with all the other honours students. Postgrad is so much better than undergrad.
Also - EXCITING NEWS!!! - the Singalong Sound of Music is coming back to Christchurch!!! I am so thrilled. This time I have to dress up as something really fun and organise a big group of us.