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Feeling “Stupid”

I am not going to lie to my audience.  In fact, I rarely lie at all these days, unless of course it is to not offend a customer’s raving review of a beer I would sooner wash down the drain like a spider.  Personally, I usually let the spiders do their thing, they take care of the majority of insects that you really don’t want in the house.  Apparently, I used to lie as a child, because my mother cut out a cartoon of a spider Bill Clinton weaving a web with the word “lies” in it.

So I am not going to lie to you now when I tell you that I put most of my creativity into this blog post, but quotas will be quotas and I have to meet mine.

As a few of you may know, I am not by any means the most intelligent student in the SEL (Science and Engineering Library, in case you’re one of the seemingly many that don’t understand the acronym).  In fact, I’d venture to say that some of the people that don’t know me may find me to be an obnoxious moron sometimes.  I most certainly may be misinterpreted by people sitting around our engineering archipelago, but many of you know that I am usually just trying to alleviate some of that weight I mentioned so frequently in the article above.

One of the most inspiring things that began to happen to me occurred in the Spring 2016 semester.  I was enrolled in the most sophisticated courses I had ever taken, and my workload was immense and trying.  I do not by any means consider myself “smart.”  In fact, I felt pretty good when Dr. Ferrar mentioned on Day 1 that he never got to where he was “by being the smartest person in the room, but I was always the hardest worker.”  I spent countless hours reading textbooks, examples, and articles that encompassed whichever subject I was focused on at the moment.  My hard work paid dividends.

I was actually doing very well in my courses.  So well in fact, that I was appointed a “study group” leader in Mechanics of Solids.  During crunch time in Dynamics and Thermo, people were coming to me for help with studying when they were stuck.  How the hell did that happen?  Certainly not because I was smarter than anyone in the room, I can tell you that as an absolute fact.  I was dedicated to the material though, and I wanted to get smarter.

I didn’t want to just follow the process to get the right answer, I wanted to know why I was making certain relations between processes, variables, and equations.  In fact, I still have the same mindset, and I’m sure that may perplex some of my wonderful classmates,  “we got the answer already, what the hell is Tim still talking about this for?”  I can’t blame them, even my closest peers must think I’m at least eccentric, to put it lightly.

In the end, it’s just because I feel stupid most of the time.  Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m not saying that as a bad thing!  It can be frustrating at times, but if you put forth the effort, you will surely be rewarded in the end.  Pretty much, I wrote this blog specifally to leave you with this recent quote from r/engineeringstudents that I can’t find.

“If you don’t feel stupid, then you aren’t learning.”

-unknown user

Thanks for reading!



About timpalamcmuffin

I'm a mechanical engineering student that loves aviation and hockey.

17 responses to “Feeling “Stupid”

  1. kylepweb

    I kinda understand where you are coming from. During high school, I was in the top 10% of my school, academically speaking, and I never had to put in too much effort. However, once college hit, my grades dropped fast. I struggled to maintain passing grades. I had to relearn how to properly study and manage my time. What’s frustrating is that sometimes, no matter how hard I study, I just can’t seem to grasp some concepts.

  2. Your blog post just made me smile. You are an obnoxious moron, at times, but so am I. I think its part of our charm. Doing homework with you is annoying at times because, like you said, you try to understand the meaning of what you’re doing than to just be a robot and memorize answers. There is obviously something to your process considering you are where you are. I need to learn to think the way you do. I think my problem is stressing about deadlines and wanting to get things done rather than truly understanding. Since i somewhat know you, I am very aware that you are not dumb. You definitively have a different way of thinking which everyone could benefit from. I can relate to that feeling though, a lot. I sit and listen to kids blurt out absurd correct answers and wonder how the hell they know that. All I know is, my brain doesn’t work at the speed it used to.

  3. You don’t need to feel stupid in order to learn something, unknown user.

  4. Love the honesty of the this post. I can totally relate. As a non-traditional student I was faced with the dilemma of figuring out what I wanted to return to school for. When I was considering engineering, everything that I read said that the fact that I had been away fro so long (over ten years) and that I never even had physics in high school (I opted to do something else – long story) basically said that I would never make it through the curriculum. When I took my math placement I was put into college algebra… and I have struggled along ever since. But through all my struggles, I have managed to maintain a relatively high GPA. This is not easily accomplished. I am not naturally smart. I study hard, like you I don’t like to study tot he measure of a test. I like to immerse myself in to the more complex questions and gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. I wish this post were shared on a bigger platform because too many students think that it about being smart and it really isn’t.

  5. jbotula

    First off, I’ve got to say that I marked your blog from the first day as one to keep an eye on and have to say that you haven’t let me down! You bring up the age-old dilemma in this post of how much time to spend really meditating on the engineering concepts as opposed to just memorizing the techniques and formulas. Props to you for taking the more difficult (yet I think ultimately more rewarding) route.

  6. Nick White ⋅

    Feeling stupid is one of the biggest hurdles to effectively learning. It may sound like some cheesy inspirational poster type thing, but the only truly stupid people are the ones who let their fear or embarrassment stop them from asking questions. I used to give presentations on some pretty hefty material to high school students, and would continuously ask questions that I knew the kids probably wouldn’t know the answers only to force them to guess and work through the fear of being wrong.
    Your observations on work ethic are spot on as well. I’ve met and worked with a lot of pretty intelligent people, but the true indicator of their success wasn’t how much they knew but how hard they were willing to work towards knowing more. It’s one of the things that most top-of-the-class type people run into and can’t surmount, because when everything comes easy its that much more difficult to get past challenges.

  7. kevinhawe

    The title of this blog got me intrigued. That was a very good blog and glad I read it.

  8. personally i get the feeling of not being all that smart but then i remind my self that everyone is struggling like me in one way or another. Also you can be the smartest person in the world but if you dont work hard i wont mater so being smart isnt everything.

  9. ncerrut1

    I just wrote about this before I found your post. feeling like your bad at it is proof that you care enough to be better
    Good Job

  10. I think it is comforting to know that so many people can relate to this post because I definitely can. I find that it takes me much longer, maybe even twice as long, as some people to complete the same amount of work/studying. This sometimes leaves me discouraged but then I think of one of my favorite quotes, from “The Last Lecture” which says, “It’s not about aptitude, it’s about attitude.” When I am doubting myself or feeling dumb, I often remind myself of this and it gives me the motivation to pick myself up and keep chugging through the work.

  11. donjav

    Thank you for writing this post. It speaks to me. I am not doing as well in my classes as I would like. When I am reading the material, I get upset with myself that sometimes I have to read the same paragraph two or three times to comprehend what is going on. I wonder how many other engineering students feel stupid.

  12. Pingback: Test I-Linear | timpalamcmuffin

  13. yash215

    I think you make a very good point in this blog post. Being smart is important in life but not the most important. Working hard is most important. Making mistakes is okay as long as you’re learning. My teacher in high school use to say ” you go to school to learn how to learn” . I think the better you are at learning the smarter you are.

  14. Working hard is by far the best quality a person can maintain. The hardest working people are the ones who usually make something of themselves. Good luck man.

  15. tug96949

    Hey man to get this far in an engineering degree regardless of concentration is a great feat! When I first started this journey I took all gen eds and got good grades, yay me! Sarcasm, anyone can get good grades in gen eds if they give effort. Then I took calculus for the first time. Previously I had always given minimum effort in any math course because I could always just see a process and do it, no problem and get good grades. I failed calc the first time because I did not take the final. I had a D going into it but needed over a 90 to pass the course. I gave up hope for that semester. It made me question engineering. However, since I am stubborn I took on the challenge and applied myself to calc the second time and got an A. From then on I have been applying myself in courses that I need for this major. A lot of times I feel really stupid during classes. Mainly cause I am wrapped up in the material from multiple classes and brain goes numb sometimes. But looking back and see the things you have learned and applying them to the next class reminds me that I am learning a degree!

  16. Tim great post ,The title and the content were all great. Hard work will always be the key to success in such a challenging major.

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