Friday, November 21, 2014

Arrogance v. Confidence

Status update: Here we are, at the end of week nine of the quarter, with Big Game tomorrow and Thanksgiving break right after that.

I don't know what to write about because it has been a busy week--probably the busiest this quarter. Mostly a good week: some mistakes and embarrassments, but I got to talk to a really awesome CEE professor and attend my third talk about the high speed rail, and I'm feeling my way to a revised vision of what I want to do in my future. Still infrastructure, naturally, but I'm interested in all of the big three--energy, water, and transportation--rather than just water.

The review of my writing as of late is more disappointing. This time last year, I was finishing up Orsolya; my work on Ubermadchen hasn't stopped, but it is inching forward, with only a few paragraphs every week. I hope I can work on it a lot more during break, around my final projects.

I'm also moderately intrigued by a comment a lovely anon left on the last post, which suggested that my definition of arrogance could be more positively and accurately expressed by the term "confidence." I don't have anything else relevant to relate at the moment, so I'll take the opportunity to address that comment.

Short version: I think my definition of arrogance stands and that confidence is something else.

Long version:

Confidence, to me, is knowing you are capable of doing what you want and going for it. It is self-assurance + the chops to back it up. Think of stats--a confidence interval tells you how sure you are.

My definition of arrogance, on the other hand, is all that self-assurance and gumption and go-for-it-ness, but in absence of evidence. On my good days I fantasize about saving the world (through infrastructure, obviously). This is arrogant because I am an undergrad with no practical experience, whose application to Engineers for a Sustainable World got rejected, not even capable of making the time to work on a novel for which I feel strongly. I have never done anything remotely like my dreams in scale.

But I dream anyway, because I'm not sure I can do it but I think I can. "What do you have to back this up?" someone could ask of me, and I would not have an answer besides "Me."

For me, arrogance doesn't have the negative association that it has to more reasonable people. I go to a school that values arrogance, to some extent. I think one of its goals is to turn that arrogance into confidence by giving us chances to test ourselves and grow our skills in a safe environment.

Every year, during Big Game Week, the Ram's Head Theatrical Society puts on a show called Gaieties. This year, the performance posed some questions at different points of the show: What makes you special? What defines you? How are the two different?

I can't answer the first question yet, and the answer to the second one I share with a whole lot of other students: the fact that I am never satisfied with myself and yet believe that I am invincible and will be able to do whatever the hell I want. Arrogance, for me, is both gutsier and more brittle than confidence, and as I said on Tuesday, falls more in the Octavian stage.

Tonight I need to go to bed early (0445 call time for tomorrow, hurrah) so I'll leave you with this scene from Che Ne Sara' di Noi:



At 00:12, Paolo (the "nice guy" of the three male leads) wishes on a star--"Voglio commandare la mia vita. Voglio avere coraggio. Ecco e' il mio desiderio--il corragio. E vaffanculo." (Per gli italiani nell'audienza, per favore scusare la parolacchia). The last bit is the most important: he wishes for courage, and f you.

Which expresses my point quite nicely, because I think with arrogance, you take an adversarial stance to anything in your way. You are fighting. Congratulations; so am I.

Good luck.

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