I’m not special here. In a city that shares its geography with Cambridge, being naturally smart and being well-educated are about as exciting as bread. At the risk of sounding like a snob, that’s new for me. But it’s also refreshing, because much of my life, I’ve been the smart girl, or the nerdy girl, or the bookaholic girl, or the girl who of course would go to graduate school. On some level, I would like to see that as wonderful, especially since I plan to use my education to promote education to others, and to help bridge the achievement gap. On another level, that was socially crippling when I was growing up (or at least I let myself think that it was), and I also felt that it diminished both my other interests and any challenges I had (my mother constantly reprimanded me if I ever said “I’m not good at” anything, both because I am lucky enough to be gifted at most academic things, but also, I think, because smart kids are supposed to be smart). I try not to use my intelligence or my education as ways of seeing myself as better than other people (though I fail at that a lot), but at the same time, I neither want to appear as if my education is meaningless or that it’s everything.
So that’s the first way that moving to Boston has made me anonymous. In a small graduate community where everyone has the same specialized interest and where everyone was probably the smart kid in their hometown, I am nothing special. And in a city that boasts an incredible amount of degrees per capita, I’m nothing special in the grand scheme of things. Not that Tucson is an intellectual wasteland, but I was more privy to the entire schema of socioeconomics there, and I’m not here, so in my Boston, thus far, I’m sort of par for the course. Or so it seems. I admit that it takes an incredible amount of privilege to say this, and I have noticed in my adventures on the bus and train that for such an intellectual city to function, it takes a huge population of educated people, and then a huge population of people who, educated or not, provide all the services required for the infrastructure of the city, plus a population of “less fortunate” people that we educated can volunteer to teach/mentor/give things to/etc. Since I’m still new here, I don’t know exactly how those two populations function, or whether they can be considered two separate populations or not. But it’s an interesting observation, and I’d like to keep looking at it.
Anyway, the fact that my community here consists of incredibly well educated and naturally smart people, it follows that this kind of wipes my slate clean. I’m anonymous and fresh, and being on equal playing ground with people will mean that the next three years offer me a chance to see just how gifted I am, just how much I can learn, and what exactly I’m interested in doing with what I have.
I’m also anonymous in the sheer sense that very few people know me here. I haven’t made a huge amount of friends yet, and the ones I have are great anyway. I’m meeting people, and when I’m not busy, I hang out with friends, but I live alone, I have no family here, and Boston isn’t Tucson, where you’re never anonymous, because you’ll end up in college classes with preschool playmates, and your sister will probably date the cousin of two people you went to high school with. I’m not exaggerating when I say that truly everywhere you go in Tucson, you will probably find a connection with someone there. I am acquainted with so many people in that city it’s insane. Here, almost refreshingly, I can be whoever and whatever I want, because nobody is going to remember me anyway. How will I dress? Will I be friendly or mean? Less shy or more so? Still awkward, or more adept at following the rules of a new city? Who knows.