I feel stupid: On intellectual challenges

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I feel stupid. Or, rather … I don’t feel like I’m as smart as I used to be. And I’m not totally sure why that is.

I’m an English major (totally stereotypical). Between my undergraduate and graduate school, I spent ~6 years immersed in critical analysis of novels and other texts. But that ended almost 10 years ago.

And in those 10 years I have gotten out of the practice of that analysis. Of that deep thinking and making connections between seemingly unrelated things. And as I work on my first novels, trying to make them worthy of being categorized in the ‘literary fiction’ genre, I want those skills back.

I feel stupid.

critical analysisMaybe because I miss academia.

Maybe because I work with people much smarter than me.

Maybe because I spent last year reading a lot of just-ok YA novels.

Maybe because I haven’t actively created or launched any new products in about 2 years.

I need to fix this. I don’t like feeling stupid.

All my belongings were delivered on Friday, so I now have all my books again. Including books like this and this and this which will absolutely scratch that academia itch. I’ve been reading a lot of ebooks lately, and I miss having the physical books. Physical books with orange pen in hand.

Some plans and ideas I have ….

  • Read (and re-read) the lit-crit books I already have.
  • Read (and re-read) the novels I studied in college/grad school
  • Actively seek out academic journals and papers
  • Deliberately make notes about the books I’m reading
  • Write academic papers?

I mean that last one …. seems like such an indulgence. Writing academic articles as a hobby? What would I do with them? I can’t imagine them being good enough for any kind of publication. But the practice of articulating my ideas might be useful?

I’m not sure. What do you think?

I DO have my Master’s thesis (and I’ve mentioned this before) …. it’s about Harry Potter and memory and material culture, and I wrote it before the 7th book came out. I’ve long wanted to revise it (substantially) and self-publish it in case anyone else out there is a super-nerd like me. Maybe this will be the year I finish that.

I’ve been doing morning pages, which helps some. But it’s still not that academic critique that I (genuinely) love.

I need a challenge.

Recommendations? What do you do to challenge yourself intellectually?

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  • Kristin | My Life as a Teacup February 8, 2016 at 1:42 pm edit

    Can we just sit around and be crazy academics together? Smart people are awesome.

  • Amy T Schubert February 8, 2016 at 2:02 pm edit

    YES ! That would be awesome :)

  • maria helena February 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm edit

    Can I join you?

  • Anna (64ColorBox) February 8, 2016 at 7:17 pm edit

    I may know a few Harry Potter obsessed people who would read your academic papers if they continue to be based on Harry Potter.

  • Shannon February 10, 2016 at 9:51 pm edit

    You should take a class! Yes, you have your degrees already, but theres no reason you can’t just take a class as a challenge, either in person or by correspondence. Just a suggestion. I would be a professional student if i could!

  • Shauna Ellis April 3, 2016 at 12:24 am edit

    I just started my Masters, in a subject that in theory I should totally love I hate it.

    Meanwhile, I am re listening to a few Elise Gets Crafty Blogs. Ummm did you ever put your Memory and HArry Potter thesis out for people to read, I’d love to read it.

  • NormaSue September 29, 2016 at 8:06 am edit

    Thanks for the question. It was an intellectual challenge in itself. One im sure will be incubating in my mind. To challenge myself intellectually, I make time to study and learn new things. For me, the constant exposure to new ideas was part of the magic of formal education. Graduation doesn’t mean leaving behind all that learning and growth, it just means I’m now responsible for 100% of it. If I want it in my life, I have to put it there. Two things I do to make sure my study is more than a collection of facts are first, look for paradigm shifts. Ideas that change my perspective, the way I view the world. Secondly, I strive to develop empathy. We spend 100% of our time in our own minds, in the company of our own thoughts and opinions. Empathy is the only out. And as a balance, I am firmly rooted in principle. There’s more information out there than can be consumed by any one person. Having a principle-based filter is indespensable to the transformation of knowledge to wisdom.


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