Being Dumb Is No Fun

on Monday, Apr. 4th

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“College Chronicles takes a look at the issues facing college students in the 21st century. All contributors are currently students working for their college newspapers. These are their commentaries.

By Nicolas Alexander Escobar,  a nursing student at the University of Washington.

As the quarter comes to an end and I move one step closer to graduation, the so-called “real world” looks scarier and scarier. I’m not talking about Egypt’s revolution, the job market, Canadian imperialism or other issues troubling the geopolitical landscape. I’m talking about things much simpler and more basic than that.

As a nursing student fast approaching a career in health care, my own incompetence is impressed upon me with painful consistency. When I lose my keys, eat instant mac and cheese or forget to cycle my laundry, I can’t help but ask myself when exactly I’m going to become responsible. Long ago, when I imagined what my life would be like at the ripe old age of 22, I assumed I’d have myself a little better put together. Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” at 18, which is, coincidentally the same age I was when I finally mastered the art of “laundry.” By now, at the very least, I should know how to cook something more complicated than spaghetti.

Luckily, most people have yet to notice my obvious deficiencies. Up until this point, I’ve managed to present an air of calm professionalism that masks the idiot underneath. But Lord knows how much longer I have till someone notices that my socks never match and I only own one pair of dress pants. Unfortunately, as I start applying for more serious jobs in hospitals, this facade is bound to be put to the test. Somehow, I have to convince a potential employer that the 22-year-old with a bad haircut, minimal work experience, an apartment on Greek Row and an encyclopedic knowledge of “Harry Potter” is fit to care for dangerously ill people in a hospital. In the business world, that is what’s referred to as a “hard sell.”

Worse than the people who realize my incompetence are the people who have far too much faith in my abilities. They don’t seem to know that I just learned where the heart was a couple of months ago and am therefore not necessarily the best person to ask about angina. In the hospital, my patients tend to give me a level of respect I don’t deserve, simply because I wear scrubs (who knew dark purple pajamas would ever be intimidating to someone).

If they wanted to know how best to ward off a Dementor, I might be able to help. But WebMD and Wikipedia would probably make more accurate diagnoses of illness than I can at this point in time. Supposedly, I will grow wisened with age, but I’m not holding my breath. I know far too many 25-year-olds with patchy goatees and no jobs to make that assumption. For now, I’ll just have to console myself with the fact that unlike some of my peers, I know I’ve got a long way to go before I’m competent enough to be satisfied with my abilities.

Nicolas Escobar is a nursing student at the University of Washington. He likes laughing at his own jokes and interrupting people.

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